Deflategate has had an unexpected impact on the popularity of New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s sports merchandise.
The NFL linked Brady to the scandal concerning underinflated footballs, which may have given the Patriots an unfair advantage over the Indianapolis Colts in a January game, and the league imposed sanctions on the player and the team May 11. The uproar caused concern that football fans, and possibly sponsors, would turn their backs on Brady.
“There’s a short-term and a long-term view here,” Darren Marshall, executive vice president of consulting and research at rEvolution, told Forbes in a blog posted May 6. “There’s no doubt Brady will take a very significant short-term hit to his brand. Jersey sales will plummet.”
Marshall’s prediction could not have been further from reality. Instead, Brady merchandise has been flying off the shelves.
Just one day after the NFL suspended Brady, sports apparel specialist Fanatics.com said that Brady gear sales were up 100 percent, Money reports. Before his suspension, Brady apparel was the sixth-most popular gear on the site. Post Deflategate, the New England Patriots quarterback’s gear moved up to the No. 3 spot.
After the NFL-commissioned report revealed that Brady most likely knew about the underinflated game balls, “Brady’s No. 12 New England Patriots jersey is the highest seller among NFL veterans on the [Fanatics.com] site,” Bloomberg said.
“Fans have been showing incredible support for their team and quarterback of late,” Fanatics spokesman Scott Weiss said in an email to Bloomberg.
Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champ and two-time league Most Valuable Player, said in January that he knew nothing about the underinflated game balls. As a result of Deflategate, the NFL not only handed down a four-game suspension to Brady, it also fined the Patriots $1 million and docked them two future draft picks.