Multiple Saints players deny Roger Goodell talked to them after controversial NFC title game

The Super Bowl is but a few days away, but the controversy surrounding the events at the end of the Rams' NFC title game victory over the Saints has not yet died down. By now you know what happened: Rams corner Nickell Robey-Coleman committed blatant pass interference on Saints wideout Tommylee Lewis, but the foul went uncalled, and the Rams eventually won the game in overtime. 

Saints fans and players -- and football fans in general -- have been discussing the refereeing from that game for the better part of the past two weeks. Some Saints fans even sued the NFL to overturn the result of the game. The league has had very little response, save for a legal filing where it argued the result cannot actually be overturned. 

At his annual Super Bowl press conference, Roger Goodell tangentially addressed the controversy. "We understand the frustration of the fans," Goodell said. "I've talked to Coach Payton, the team, the players. We understand the frustration that they feel right now and we certainly want to address that."

The Saints, though, say Goodell was lying. According to tackle Zach Strief, Goodell did not talk to any of the players on the team.

During a radio appearance, Strief said he has spoken to his teammates and they've told him they have not heard from Goodell since the title game. He specifically said that the two players Goodell would have been most likely to reach out to -- Drew Brees and Ben Watson -- both confirmed to him that Goodell didn't talk to them, either.

"The man literally stands up on a podium and just lies. It's mind blowing. He is the commissioner of the biggest sports league in the country, and it is totally cool with all the people who employ him, the 32 owners, that he just lies to everybody," Strief said.

And he's not the only one saying this. Michael Thomas, one of the players who advocated for the enforcement of Rule 17 to overturn the result of the NFC title game, also said Goodell has not talked to the Saints. 

This isn't the first time the league's response to the controversy has come into question. Immediately after the game, Saints coach Sean Payton stated that he heard from the league, which admitted that the refs had blown the call. There was soon a report that the league would make a public admission, but then that never happened and instead the league has only admitted the mistake in private conversations with the Saints. Now, the commissioner claims he talked to Saints players, but the players themselves say he didn't. This story is not going away. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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