Finally, the Saints’ nightmare of a 2012 NFL year is done.
Sean Payton has been reinstated.
You can say it was too little, too late.
You can say it came sooner than expected.
But really, you can just say it’s over.
For nearly 11 months, New Orleans has been battered with the latest on a seemingly never-ending ride through the deepest depths of emotion.
Payton’s reinstatement ends this voyage, likely with the sourest of tastes for Saints fans everywhere.
It’s another acknowledgement, though silent, that 2012 was lost for New Orleans – the city and the team.
The Saints are as entrenched in the social and cultural fabric of the city as any other program anywhere, college or pro. As the team goes, so goes the city and so goes Monday.
From March 2, 2012, when we first heard about the bounty program, to today, when Payton was reinstated, there was little good news for those who bleed black and gold, who have fleur de lis emblazoned on their souls.
It’s likely that few will forget what has gone on; it’s even likelier that fewer will forgive any party involved in this past year’s unfortunate shenanigans.
The easy thing right now would be continue to let everything fester beneath the surface, to let the hate and scorn for everything that has gone on bubble unhealthily to a boil.
The hard thing is to move on. The hard thing is to be the bigger person.
Mickey Loomis and Joe Vitt and Payton and the others involved have a chance now to lead again. They have a chance to dive back into what they love most and to move on from what has gone on these nine tough months, anger hopefully giving way to hard work.
So Tuesday isn’t marking an end.
No, it’s marking a beginning.
Payton can be involved from here on out in building the Saints back to the team that went 41-13 (playoffs included) in the three years prior to 2012.
And that’s the biggest thing that came from Tuesday’s reinstatement.