(Reuters) - The loyal fans of the New England Patriots, angered by the suspension of Tom Brady and $1 million fine levied against the team for the “Deflategate” scandal, have opened a fund-raising drive to help the team pay the bill.
A Patriots fan looking to raise money to pay the fine created a GoFundMe web page titled “Paying the bill of the PATRIOTS,” and as of Wednesday morning fans had donated $13,538.
While the $1 million fine is large by National Football League standards, it wouldn’t dent the bottom line of a team valued by Forbes at $2.6 billion in 2014.
“We obviously know we won’t reach One Million Dollars, however we do believe the fine is bulls**t and want to help anyway we can,” the page creator wrote on the website.
“So whatever is donated will be donated to the New England Patriots in help with the fine!”
Brady was suspended for four games, and the team was fined a record $1 million and forced to surrender two draft picks for purposely deflating the footballs in the AFC title game last January, the NFL said on Monday after releasing a 243-page report on its investigation.
Deflating the balls would possibly have given Brady a better grip on the ball in the chilly conditions at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, south of Boston.
After receiving “both positive and negative feedback,” the website creator said on Wednesday if the Patriots do not accept the money “we plan to donate the money to some great causes!”
Many of the donations were for $12, the jersey number of Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion and one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.
“In Tom we trust!!,” wrote anne B. after donating $5. “We will always back our TB12!!! Don’t attempt to tarnish the legacy of the greatest player and QB to ever play the game, without hard evidence!!”
The Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship to advance to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24.
Brady’s agent, Donald Yee, has said the quarterback will appeal the suspension.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Lisa Lambert