We’re far from closing the book on the #DeflateGate controversy that has gripped the nation since the AFC title game, but we can safely assume that the legacy of the New England Patriots being serial cheaters is firmly in the record books. Whether or not the Patriots are truly cheaters is unclear, but that’s also beside the point. The public, including publics far beyond the United States, yet curiously outside the New England region, have made their decision.


Prevalent among public opinion is the desire to see the Patriots stripped of their title game trophy and ousted from the Super Bowl. In a recent article in the Atlantic, Dashiell Bennett calls this opinion “manufactured outrage.” This is a phenomenon in which the mass media instigates the morally righteous to gather and demand that anyone who behaves without righteousness be fired, fined, ostracized, and stripped of the right to earn a living: Donald Sterling, Michael Vick, Ray Rice, Adrian Petersen, Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, etc.


Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on field picture

Tom Brady & Bill Belichick are the most successful coach/QB tandem in NFL history.

Manufactured outrage is at its peak when the accused parties are rich and famous. The public has seen far too many scandals involving CEOs, banks, celebrities, and athletes, all of whom receive minor sentences for crimes that would put most of us behind bars for a decade. With #DeflateGate, the accused party happens to be the winningest, albeit most universally hated, football team in the NFL, and its star quarterback is one of the richest and lucky-in-love athletes in the world. Perhaps, it isn’t moral outrage. Perhaps, we’re just damn tired of the rich and famous getting off the hook and receiving accolades while doing so.


#DeflateGate meme

The Twittersphere erupted into meme mode after Tom Brady’s #DeflateGate press conference

The NFL suffered a series of public relations disasters in 2014, and the league kicked off 2015 with yet another. The public is sick of hearing about athletes and teams running wild in the NFL. From double-murder suspect tight ends, to spouse abusers, to drug addicted owners, to dog-fighting quarterbacks, the NFL has a personnel problem that is causing the public to demand accountability. At this point, any false move by a player or team is going to get under the public’s skin and result in a moral outrage. Manufactured or not, outrage is outrage, and outrage appears to be the only path to change.





Do you think the public’s response to #DeflateGate is manufactured by the mass media, or are we genuinely fed up with the behavior of the rich and famous? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet me @nataliepetitto.