A survey conducted by Langer Research Associates at the behest of ESPN and ABC News found that nearly three-quarters of respondents calling themselves avid NFL fans support the punishments the league meted out to the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady over Deflategate.
Nearly three-quarters of “avid” fans agreed with the league’s decision, while 63% of all NFL fans echoed that sentiment.
The league suspended Brady for four games, fined the team $1 million, and took away two draft picks as a result of investigator Ted Wells judging it “more probable than not” that a Patriots game-day employee let air out of footballs after the referees checked them before the AFC Championship.
Avid fans had stronger feelings that Brady cheated, as 69% of them fingered the quarterback, while 54% of all fans agreed; 29% of avid fans and 35% of all fans thought he had not. The Patriots were suspected of cheating by 63% of avid fans and 52% of all fans, with 38% of avid fans and 34% of all fans seeing the team as innocent.
Cynicism regarding the NFL’s teams ran rampant in the survey. A whopping 85% of all fans and 80% of avid fans felt that incidents such as Deflategate occur with other teams around the league as well as the Patriots. Only 6% of all fans and 12% of avid fans thought the Patriots alone cheat.
A majority of avid fans, 58%, judged the Patriots Super Bowl victory as untainted by Deflategate, and 49% of all fans agreed.
A huge majority of avid fans (73%) thought Brady should still be elected to the Hall of Fame despite the scandal (63% of casual fans agreed). A lesser percentage thought Brady served a good role model for young people: 61% of avid fans and a bare majority (52%) of all fans agreed.
Brady has until 5 p.m. Thursday to appeal the league’s suspension.