MOBILE, Ala. — Sean Payton’s – and New Orleans’ – long wait for reinstatement has finally come to an end.
The NFL issued the motion to allow Payton back into the league Tuesday morning, ending a nearly 10-month period in which the Saints’ head coach has been suspended.
The move couldn’t have come soon enough, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said.
“Every day makes a difference,” Loomis said. “We’ve certainly missed Sean in terms of the football team and all the things that go with our business and the game. But look, I miss his friendship. We all miss his friendship. We miss him as a person. I’m excited that he’s going to be back here and fired up that he’s back here.”
Loomis was caught by surprise when reporters approached him as he entered Senior Bowl practice at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium, one of the year’s first looks at college seniors during draft season. But once the information was out, the smile on Loomis’ face couldn’t be wiped away.
“I haven’t talked to him this morning,” Loomis said. “That’s good news. You caught me a little off guard. Happy Tuesday.
Payton was suspended for not ending a three-year bounty program the NFL said the Saints ran under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
While Loomis wouldn’t call the reinstatement closure – “I don’t know that I’d put it in that term” – it does get the franchise on its way for the 2013 season.
The newly-reinstated head coach will likely return with reams of information gleaned from watching the Saints from afar.
“I think he’ll come in with a few, knowing him,” Loomis said. “He has got about nine months worth or eight months worth, whatever it has been. He’ll have a lot of notes.”
He added, “We’re already working on 2013 so now we can get another set of eyes and another guy in the building, an important guy in the building, and just keep going on it.”
Since Payton arrived in New Orleans, the Saints have been to two NFC championship games, winning one, and earned the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl win.
His return, Loomis said, is important to the club.
“Any time you’re talking a head coach of a football team and a successful coach, as successful as he has been and as important as he has been to everybody in our building and even the city, I don’t know that I can put into words what that means,” Loomis said. “Except that he’s a great leader for us, he’s a great coach, he’s a great offensive mind and we’re looking forward to having him back.”