NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — To say they are outraged is putting it mildly.
On Tuesday, New England Patriots fans gathered at NFL headquarters in Manhattan to protest the league’s punishment of quarterback Tom Brady and the organization for their roles in the “deflategate” scandal. The protesters sought unsuccessfully to get an audience with league Commissioner Roger Goodell.
On Monday afternoon, the league fined the Patriots $1 million and suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season. The Pats were also stripped of a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017.
Protesters staged a sit-in inside 345 Park Avenue, handcuffing themselves, while others circled in front of the building with pro-Patriots signs. During a live stream of the action on the Periscope app, the protesters could be heard saying they were prepared to be arrested.
Sure enough, police later responded to the commotion and did their thing, hauling away a handful of fans.
Late last week, the Wells Report found that Patriots employees likely deflated footballs used in last season’s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, and Brady was probably “at least generally aware” of the rules violations.
Brady, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, has so far not responded directly to the report, and has been portrayed as uncooperative with investigators, refusing to hand over his cellphone, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Tuesday.
“Tom and his wife are major superstars. She’s a model, the top model in the world. Do you really want someone to go through your cellphone, and sifting through it, no matter what the circumstances are? I don’t think that’s the standard that any American would want their employer to do,” sportscaster Jim Gray said.
Public relations expert Ronn Torosian told Sanchez that Brady’s brand is tarnished, adding he needs to release a public statement.
“If I’ve done anything to offend anybody it was not my intention. You’ve said what we need to say,” Torosian said. “You really didn’t say much and then you can move on and then you can get back to playing football, which is what America wants Tom Brady to be doing.”
Image experts say Brady will have a much easier time bouncing back from his ordeal than the likes of Tiger Woods or Alex Rodriguez. But football followers say he’s not helping his case by staying quiet.
That said, though, Brady still has plenty of cheerleaders. The Patriots have changed their official Facebook and Twitter profile pictures from the team logo to Brady’s No. 12 jersey, Sanchez reported.
In addition, Patriots fans have started a GoFundMe page to help offset the cost of the $1 million fine against the franchise.