Fans of the New England Patriots are expressing support for the team and disappointment in NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a day after the league handed down a punishment for the so-called Deflategate scandal. Many Pats fans called the punishments way too heavy handed, and not in line with the handling of other recent NFL problems.
"I think Goodell is trying to make a big statement here, and really show that he has control and rule with an iron fist but I think he's way off base here," said Pats fan Ben Delaney.
Quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game suspension, the team must pay a $1,000,000 fine, and the Pats will lose a 2016 first-round draft pick under the punishment announcement Monday. Most observers expect the Patriots to appeal to the league to ask for a less severe punishment.
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"The NFL poked the bear, so to speak, with the Patriots," a caller from Maine listening to 98.5 The Sports Hub told radio hosts Scott Zolak and Marc Bertrand. "I think every single one of the players is going to be fired up and ready to go. I think Belichick is going to have them more prepared than ever and I think they're going to repeat."
Bertrand told New England Cable News the punishment has more buzz around it than any recent sports story he can recall.
"I think there's a lot of fans across the country that look at that and say, 'Good for the NFL, they're treating the Patriots like every other team,'" Bertrand noted. "And here locally, I think we look at that and say, 'Why is it the Patriots have to pay that price? Is it because of all their success over the years?'"
Zolak, a former Patriots quarterback, said he now considers the NFL an "embarrassment."
"If Tom [Brady] was a bad guy, I wouldn't have a problem with this," Zolak told necn. "You can't find a guy who does anything better or more by the book than that guy. I feel bad that he's been drug through this, and I wouldn't blame him if he sued for defamation."
At ChowdaHeadz, a Woburn, Massachusetts company that sells t-shirts, candles, and other products carrying slogans describing New England sport teams and traditions, owner Ryan Gormady is swamped. He said orders are flying in from as far away as Australia for hot-off-the-presses "Free Tom Brady" stickers and t-shirts.
He told necn he sold hundreds of shirts in the first 24 hours after the punishment was announced.
"Bottom line, we have a short window of opportunity to get this product out there in front of the customer," Gormady said. "And we've got to strike while the iron's hot."
Liza Davidson, who is working on marketing the ChowdaHeadz products, said the challenge for the company is that so many competitors come out with similar products all at once when a hot issue like this or a viral trend breaks.
"This might not work in a different area where people aren't so passionate about their sports and their teams," Davidson said. "It is about sensing what's coming next before it happens, getting ready, and then pushing it out at the opportune moment."
Another way fans are showing their support for the team is through a Go Fund Me page that says it will help the Patriots pay their million-dollar fine. Of course, no one thinks Bob Kraft needs help with money, but one fan wrote on the page that she donated $12 for Brady's number twelve, saying, "I think it would make an awesome statement if the fans paid the fine in support of the team and in protest of this baloney."