NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - Fans of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton want him "freed" following the announcement of 'bounty-gate' penalties handed down by the NFL on Wednesday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Payton without pay for the entire 2012 season. However, fans of the coach who helped the team win its only Super Bowl in 2009 are not quietly accepting the disciplinary action.
According to a WWL-TV report, support for the coach has turned into a cultural phenomenon.
Hours after the news broke of Payton's punishment, one shop in New Orleans printed t-shirts with the phrase, 'Free Sean Payton.' The city's Who Dats responded by snatching up hundreds of them in no time.
The Twitterverse has exploded with comments about Payton's suspension.
Psychologists say lashing out like that is one way of coping with bad news. Dr. Amy Dickson said Who Dats make such a serious commitment to supporting the team that they feel they're part of it.
Black and gold supporters said this won't keep them down. They'll keep cheering for the team regardless. However, there's a lot of uncertainty about what this could mean for the franchise.
Payton's suspension was not the only punishment issued by the league.
GM Mickey Loomis is suspended for eight games without pay, the team was fined $500,000 and draft picks were taken away.
There could still be suspensions handed out to the players involved.