NEW YORK — Sean Payton is back as coach of the New Orleans Saints.
Payton’s season-long suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program was lifted by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday, nearly two weeks earlier than expected.
The decision allows Payton to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, where some of the top college players available for the NFL draft will be competing.
Payton, along with assistant head coach Joe Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis, and four players including Jonathan Vilma, was suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.
“I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations,” Payton said in a statement. “Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed.”
The suspension was scheduled to end after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, but was moved up after Payton and Goodell met on Monday.
Arrest in Georgia Dome stabbing
A 46-year-old man has been arrested in a stabbing near the Georgia Dome in Atlanta following the Falcons’ NFC championship game loss.
Georgia Dome spokesman Jason Kirksey says James Lewis McCoy of Villa Rica was arrested by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority Police Department. Information on McCoy’s charges was not immediately available.
Kirksey says the stabbing may have been over an argument about food during a tailgate party outside the Georgia Dome Sunday.
The 35-year-old person who was stabbed has not been identified. Authorities say he is in stable condition at Grady Memorial Hospital.
FPA proposes revisions to Rooney Rule
After minority candidates were recently shut out by NFL teams for 15 top jobs, the Fritz Pollard Alliance wants the Rooney Rule to include coordinators, assistant head coaches and club president positions.
The proposal sent to league executives came a week after no minorities were hired for eight coaching vacancies and seven general manager openings. There are four minority head coaches going into the 2013 season, the fewest since 2003.
Robert Gulliver, the NFL’s executive vice president of human resources, said in a statement last week the hiring results were “disappointing” and anticipated making revisions.
With teams trending toward hiring coaches with offensive backgrounds, it’s important for minorities to hold coordinator positions. Baltimore’s Jim Caldwell and Pep Hamilton, hired last week by Indianapolis, are the only minority offensive coordinators in the NFL.
NFL looking into Brady’s slide vs Ravens
The NFL is looking into Tom Brady’s leg-up slide that hit Ravens safety Ed Reed in the AFC championship game.
Brady could be subject to a fine if the league believes he violated any player safety rules.
New Browns coach Rob Chudzinski hired Joe Cullen as his defensive line coach, Louie Cioffi to coach the defensive backs and Shane Steichen as offensive quality control coach. ... The Jaguars hired Mike Mallory as special teams coordinator.