Sean Payton heard them snickering. He was aware of their reactions. The New Orleans Saints coach of nearly a decade and a half knew his decision to start Taysom Hill instead of Jameis Winston this Sunday, reported but not confirmed by the coach on Friday, was being mocked and questioned, by basement dwellers, media members and even former NFL players.
So on Sunday afternoon, minutes after New Orleans, led by an impressive Hill, trounced the rival Atlanta Falcons, 24-9, Payton, pro football's crown prince of pettiness, took to Twitter to respond, not with a rhetorical retort, but a retweet.
That's Payton exposing one freezing-cold day-old take from former Falcons receiver Roddy White, who spent the week leading up the Week 11 rivalry game flaming Payton and the Saints for starting a supposed gadget guy in Hill in place of the injured Drew Brees, but who then spent most of Sunday lambasting the Falcons for losing to a guy playing "backyard football."
Payton's subversive Twitter taunt has since gone viral, which is more than can be said of his postgame comments after New Orleans moved to 8-2.
The Saints coach praised Hill (18-of-23, 233 yards, two rushing TDs) for his ability to get "comfortable with the flow of the game," but mostly focused on the play of his defense, which logged eight sacks of former MVP Matt Ryan, in his postgame presser. Payton made no indication whether he planned to start Hill again next week or for the two after that, while Brees recovers from rib, lung and shoulder injuries.
The coach's comments sufficed. Payton had said enough by saying nothing at all.