The NFL finally announced Monday exactly how it plans to punish the New England Patriots for the “deflategate” controversy that was “more probable than not" to have occurred, and the Patriots nation is pissed off, riled up and banding together.
The Patriots' official Twitter account, for example, has apparently been switched to a Tom Brady jersey, a not-so-subtle signal of defiance in the wake of the league suspending their golden boy for the first four games of the season.
The team’s owner, Robert Kraft, is upset, too. An anonymous NFL owner told Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report that the BFF relationship between Kraft and Roger Goodell is “pretty much dead.” In an official statement, delivered Monday, Kraft said the punishment “far exceeded any reasonable expectation,” which is rich people's way of expressing anger.
Here’s his entire official statement:
Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league. Today’s punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence.
We are humbled by the support the New England Patriots have received from our fans throughout the world. We recognize our fans’ concerns regarding the NFL’s penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled, as well as the dismissal of the scientific evidence supported by the Ideal Gas Law in the final report.
Tom Brady has our unconditional support. Our belief in him has not wavered.
Some Pats fan even created a GoFundMe campaign for the mind-boggling reason of paying the team's $1 million fine, a fine that could instead be picked up by Kraft, a multi-billionaire. Even more wild, people are actually donating.
Since this is 2015, there is also a hashtag, #NoBradyNoBanner, which is part of a social media campaign to postpone the team’s Super Bowl celebration until Brady is allowed back on the team.
The man who supposedly started the campaign, Mike Curtis, even used the word “persecuted” when explaining how Pats fans felt:
I think this is just a product of Patriots fans feeling like they’re being persecuted unfairly because of (the) national perception of them and previous punishments.
Even Bill Simmons, who has gone silent since news broke on Friday that ESPN would not be extending his contract, couldn’t stop himself from tweeting out YouTube videos from the team's Super Bowl victory against the Seattle Seahawks, the intent of which speaks for itself, since Simmons obviously doesn’t.
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, also threw some expected shade at the NFL in a statement, adding that he’s going to appeal this decision (emphasis ours):
The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis. In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever. There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits. In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules. Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him. The Wells Report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots. The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs. This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays. We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me. Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.
And, as one might expect, there is angry apparel in production as well.
JUST ADDED: Fire Goodell T-Shirt
— 617 Apparel (@617Apparel) May 12, 2015
Pats nation is at war with the world. Whose side are you on?
UPDATE -- 3:20 p.m.: Now it looks like some Pats fans have handcuffed themselves inside NFL headquarters:
— Brian Ries (@moneyries) May 12, 2015