Did Saints' Sean Payton take swipe at Roger Goodell with infamous clown T-shirt?

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·NFL columnist
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The New Orleans Saints versus the NFL commissioner may have waded into more personal waters. That is, if you believe a T-shirt conspiracy that seems to have convincing evidence.

In what would unquestionably be a direct shot at Roger Goodell in the fallout of the non-call that may have cost New Orleans a Super Bowl berth, Saints head coach Sean Payton appeared to deliver his season-ending news conference on Wednesday wearing a concealed Barstool Sports T-shirt featuring the commissioner with a clown nose. At least, that’s what a growing segment of internet sleuths believes, many of whom spotted the shirt under a partially zipped pullover that Payton wore during the presser.

Saints head coach Sean Payton has been clear about what a raw deal his team got in the NFC title game. (AP)
Saints head coach Sean Payton has been clear about what a raw deal his team got in the NFC title game. (AP)

Payton’s zipper was pulled down just enough to reveal the top portion of an image on his T-shirt, which bore a striking resemblance to Barstool’s infamous Goodell “clown” image. The same shirt that was previously donned by former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in 2015 following a four-game suspension of Tom Brady for his role in deflate-gate.

While it’s unclear if Payton was wearing the same T-shirt, multiple graphics showing overlays of the image appear to show the crest of Goodell’s hair from the Barstool shirt. And the underlying message would seem to fit the moment, as Payton once again lamented the failure of officials to call an interference penalty against Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman in the NFC championship game.

That no-call, which the NFL admitted was an officiating error, would have delivered the Saints a key first down late in the fourth quarter, allowing the possibility of either scoring a decisive touchdown or kicking a field goal as time expired. Instead, the Saints were denied the call, settling for a field goal that would be matched less than two minutes later by the Rams, sending the game into overtime and an eventual 26-23 loss for New Orleans.

Goodell acknowledged the Saints’ gripes during a news conference at the Super Bowl on Wednesday, but stopped short of announcing a league-wide overhaul of officiating and instant replay rules.

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