With the Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans in less than two weeks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave Saints fans a reason to celebrate...
With the Super Bowl to be played in New Orleans in less than two weeks, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave Saints fans a reason to celebrate Tuesday, reinstating coach Sean Payton after a nearly yearlong suspension for his role in the bounty scandal that rocked the franchise last offseason.
The reinstatement effectively ends the tumultuous period for the Saints that began last March, when the league announced it had uncovered a bounty system within the team. Payton was suspended for most of the offseason, including the draft and minicamps, and for the entire regular season. General manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who were also suspended last summer, have been back on the job for months.
Recently, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the discipline imposed on four players for what the league said was their role in bounties. Last week a defamation lawsuit brought against Goodell by one of those players, Jonathan Vilma, was dismissed by a judge.
Gregg Williams, the former defensive coordinator who the league said was at the center of the bounty system, left the Saints even before the NFL’s investigation became public. He was suspended indefinitely but is currently not employed by a team.
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• The NFL is looking into Tom Brady’s leg-up slide that hit Baltimore safety Ed Reed in the AFC Championship Game.
League spokesman Greg Aiello said “any play of that nature is routinely reviewed.”
Brady could be subject to a fine if the league believes he violated any player safety rules.
During the final minute of the first half, Brady slid at the end of an impromptu run. The quarterback’s upraised leg hit the onrushing Reed, who temporarily limped away. Reed was not injured.
Reed says Brady attempted to apologize this week for the slide.
“He actually reached out to me, texted me,” Reed told WJZ-FM in Baltimore. “I tried to text him back, but the message exploded after 12 seconds, so I had to call him. … He’s just apologized and what not. But I told him, ‘You know, it’s good, man.’ “
• Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan has denied allegations made by two of his former players that he “sabotaged” the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago.
Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before Oakland’s 48-21 loss.
• The NFL is hoping to decide the fate of the Pro Bowl by the time it releases next season’s schedule in April. And the fate of the league’s all-star game will largely depend on how much effort this year’s participants put into the game.
• Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl team as an injury replacement for Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez.
• Police haven’t identified any suspects yet in the home invasion robbery at the Aurora. Colo., home of New England Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin.
• New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was uninjured in a three-car accident in eastern Pennsylvania last week. A team spokesman confirmed that Ryan was issued a warning and no citation after the accident on Jan. 14 in Bethlehem, Pa.
• Dallas defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is free on bond Tuesday after his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The 31-year-old nose tackle was arrested shortly after midnight after his pickup truck sideswiped a semitrailer truck in eastern Grapevine, 20 miles northwest of Dallas.