Most NFL fans believe Tom Brady and the New England Patriots cheated, but an overwhelming majority also thinks they aren’t the only ones who do.
The football-watching public gives Brady and the Patriots the benefit of the doubt, to a degree, according to a poll conducted for ESPN and ABC News by Langer Research Associates. While 63 percent of all fans support the NFL’s sanctions and 54 percent say they think Brady cheated, a full 85 percent of fans believe practices like intentionally deflating footballs aren’t limited to the Patriots, the poll found.
However this controversy ends, it appears it won’t damage Brady’s legacy too much or hurt his jersey sales. Sixty-three percent of fans (and 73 percent who described themselves as “avid” fans) still support Brady’s eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while 52 percent of fans (and 61 percent of “avid” fans) said they still see Brady as a good role model.
Brady was suspended four games by the NFL and the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked two draft picks after an independent investigation found it “more probable than not” that the quarterback and team personnel conspired to deflate footballs below the legal minimum to gain a competitive advantage.
Dubbed “DeflateGate,” the controversy became national news, and the NFL’s punishments (pending appeal) were among the most severe in NFL history.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images