Saints coach reinstated — 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.
Brady’s slide a no-no? — The NFL is looking into New England quarterback Tom Brady’s leg-up slide that hit Baltimore safety Ed Reed in the AFC championship game. League spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday “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 at the end of an impromptu run. The quarterback’s upraised leg hit the onrushing Reed, who temporarily limped away. Reed was not injured. Reed says Brady attempted to apologize this week for the slide.
Study marks CTE progress — For years, researchers have had to use tissue obtained posthumously to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the degenerative brain disease that has bedeviled athletes, soldiers and others who have suffered repeated head hits and concussions.But a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry on Tuesday suggests that PET scans could one day be used to diagnose the disease in living patients. Last year five retired NFL players who were 45 years and older and suffered from mood swings, depression and cognitive problems were given PET, or positron emission tomography, scans. The authors of the study said those scans revealed tau protein deposits in their brains, a signature of CTE. While not definitive, the distribution of tau in the retired players was consistent with those found in the autopsies of players who had CTE. But the size of the group was tiny; far larger and more in-depth studies will be needed before PET scans can be used to identify the tau pathology in patients who are not already experiencing cognitive problems.
Rooney rule changes? — 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 Tuesday 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.
Cowboy arrested for DWI — Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is free on bond after his arrest Tuesday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The 31-year-old nose tackle was arrested shortly after midnight after his pickup truck sideswiped a semitrailer truck on Texas 114 in eastern Grapevine, 20 miles northwest of Dallas. The arrest came less than a month after fellow Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent was indicted on an intoxicated manslaughter count in the Dec. 8 crash that killed his friend and Cowboys practice squad member Jerry Brown. He remains free on $100,000 bond.
Callahan denies sabotage — Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan has denied allegations made by two of his former players that he “sabotaged" the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago. Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before Oakland’s 48-21 loss. “While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours," Callahan said Tuesday in a statement. “To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations." The hubbub over a game played a decade ago began Monday when Brown said on Sirius XM Radio that he believed Callahan altered the game plan because of his close ties to Gruden, the former Raiders coach who hired Callahan, and because Callahan hated the Raiders.
Mickelson apologizes — Phil Mickelson is talking more about how much he pays in taxes than how many fairways he hits off the tee. Mickelson, regarded as the “People’s Choice" for his connection with fans, put his popularity on the line with polarizing comments about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes. The four-time major champion said it might lead to “drastic changes," such as moving from his native California, and that it already caused him to pull out of the San Diego Padres’ new ownership group. His only regret was not keeping his opinion to himself. “Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public," Mickelson said in a statement released Monday night. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again."
Grizzlies, Cavs trade — The Memphis Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick Tuesday to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jon Leuer. The trade is the first big move by the Grizzlies’ new ownership and clears about $6 million in salary in getting Memphis under the luxury tax threshold this season. The Grizzlies rank fourth in the West and are 6-4 over their past 10 games after the NBA’s best start this season.
Not so fast, Seattle? — Telling Seattle residents “don’t celebrate too early," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson on Tuesday introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Kings in California’s capital city. In front of a City Hall crowd filled with Kings fans and public officials, Johnson said he has 19 local investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to buy the NBA franchise. He said the major partner he hopes to anchor the last-ditch deal to save the Kings from moving to Seattle “will be revealed soon." The mayor’s announcement came a day after the Maloof family announced it has signed an agreement to sell the Kings to a Seattle group led by investor Chris Hansen.
Phillies sign OF Young — 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 Tuesday, 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. Young made $6.75 million last year, but off-field issues cost him a lucrative, multiyear deal.
Motte, Cardinals agree — Reliever Jason Motte and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a $12 million, two-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. The 30-year-old right-hander had a career-high 42 saves in 49 chances last year, when he was 4-5 with a 2.75 ERA. He made $2 million.
- From wire reports