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Saints Coach Back In Action

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 yesterday, 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.

Payton recently signed a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2017 season.

NFL Looking Into
Brady’s Slide

New York — The NFL is looking into Tom Brady’s leg-up slide that hit Ravens 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 to the ground to end of an impromptu run. The quarterback’s upraised leg hit the onrushing Reed, who temporarily limped away. But Reed was not injured.

Reed said 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.’ ”

Reed did not believe Brady was trying to hurt him.

Rooney Rule
Revisions Proposed

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 yesterday to league executives, came a week after no minorities were hired for eight coaching vacancies and seven general manager openings. There are only four minority head coaches going into the 2013 season, the fewest since 2003.

“I think the league recognizes that these are the challenges we are dealing with when it relates to diversity and this is a plan of action that they can accept and be willing to work with,” John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation said. “I feel very comfortable that this will be extended into the Rooney Rule.”

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.

Baseball

Phillies Add ALCS MVP

Philadelphia — In just a few months, Delmon Young went from MVP of the American League championship series to a guy hoping for an opportunity.

Young got that chance yesterday, signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for $750,000.

The 27-year-old outfielder batted .267 with 27 doubles, 18 homers and 74 RBIs for Detroit last season. He hit .313 with three homers and a team-high nine RBIs during 13 playoff games and was MVP against of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. The Tigers were swept by San Francisco in the World Series.

Young made $6.75 million last year, but off-field issues cost him a lucrative, multiyear deal. He was suspended without pay for seven days by Major League Baseball after an incident outside a New York City hotel last spring. Young later pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment for shouting an anti-Semitic slur and tackling a man to the ground.