Is the Deflategate Fine Making the Patriots Money?

Several supports point out ways the Patriots are benefiting from the punishment.

Associated Press

Associated Press

The conventional wisdom in New England is that the fine levied against the Patriots in the wake of Deflategate is, in the muted words of our own attorney general, “disappointing.” But since the fine was first announced, several reports have pointed out ways the financial burden on the Patriots might actually be lower than you’d expect.

The Boston Globe, for instance, did a creative bit of accounting to argue that the combination of a $1 million fine and a 4-game suspension for Tom Brady actually saves the team money. How? Because it is a tax deductible business cost; the $1 million fine the Patriots will pay to the NFL will actually cost them about $600,000. Meanwhile, because Tom Brady has been suspended for four games, the Patriots won’t have to pay out his $1.9 million in salary, which, when tax deductions are again taken into consideration, comes out to $1.14 million in savings. All told, that leaves the team with an extra $540,000 on the books.

The Patriots are making money in other ways, too. CNBC reports that sales of Tom Brady’s jersey have more than doubled since Monday. They cited figures from Fanatics, a seller of officially licensed sports gear, to point out that the team will collect a bit more merchandise revenue than usual thanks to the Brady fans rallying behind their hero.

Speaking of rallying around the Patriots, the Globe reports that ticket prices for a few of the games have jumped, too. While you might expect fans to stay away, either out of disappointment or because of Brady’s absence, in fact, home game tickets are $50 more expensive this year than last year. And prices for the fifth game, when Brady’s return is projected, are also on the rise. Overall, Beth Teitell reports:

…home-game ticket prices for the entire season are down less than one percent — .71 percent — he said, a reflection that people think the suspension will be reduced.

Nevertheless, these accounting details are nothing more than silver lining on what still adds up to a raw deal. By all accounts, Patriots owner Bob Kraft is livid at the NFL, and no doubt he would rather have an uncontroversial Tom Brady leading the team into next season—they pay him that enormous salary for a reason. And indeed, the actual economic impact on the team is probably more complicated than these few factors that can be calculated in the first week after the fine. The long term effect on the Patriots reputation and performance still has to shake out. But for now, let’s just note that all these silver linings provide yet another reason not to donate to the GoFundMe that’s offering to pick up Bob Kraft’s tab.