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Meanwhile, new lines of black-and-gold T-shirts which read “Free Sean Payton,” and “Free Payton,” have hit stores. They are reminiscent of the “Free Edwin Edwards” T-shirts that came out after the popular former governor was convicted in a federal gambling corruption probe.

Players, too, have expressed support for their embattled coach. Starting right tackle Zach Strief has said the Saints owe it to Payton to live up to the standards he has set and win in his honor.

“This season is going to take on an us-versus-the-world mentality,” Strief said last week. “This team is going to come together closer than it has ever been and I think that we all feel like we have something to prove. We’re going to do our best to make this situation into a positive one.”

Should the Saints decide against going outside of the organization to find an interim coach, there are several candidates among current assistants to fill that role. They include offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

Spagnuolo is a former head coach, while Carmichael, who called the Saints‘ offensive plays for much of last season, and Kromer, who has overseen one of the top offensive lines in the league, both have drawn interest in the past year from other teams looking for head coaching candidates.