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Sean Payton Could Be Reinstated By NFL Before End Of Season

Suspended New Orleans coach Sean Payton could be reinstated to by the NFL before the end of the season, according to commissioner Roger Goodell, who exiled the coach for the season in the first place after the league’s investigation into the team’s alleged bounty program.

Goodell has been in communication with Payton about the possibility of rejoining the team at the end of the regular season and before the Super Bowl, according to ESPN.

More involved conversations between the two are planned after the holidays, Goodell told the network.

This action has been facilitated by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s decision as the appointed mediator to overturn the suspensions of the four players cited at the heart of the bounty scandal. Goodell was non-committal on Payton’s prospects for a return before originally decided, but the fact that he is even considering it is quite a reversal of his previous stance.

“I don’t want to say he could be (reinstated early) because, again, we are in the early stages,” Goodell said as he left for the airport after the NFL owners meetings in Irving, Texas. “We are starting to talk about it.”

The Super Bowl on Feb. 3 is in New Orleans, and ESPN speculated that it might be advisable for Goodell to right make a move with Payton, as the potential from backlash from Saints fans could cause a scene, if not a protest.

Goodell recently provided Payton and the Saints permission to negotiate to resolve the contractual issues that prevented the league office from approving the multi-year extension the parties agreed to in 2011. The commissioner rejected it because of a clause that would have voided the agreement and permitted Payton to leave the franchise if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or otherwise left the front office.

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