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Why Do Some People Hate Tom Brady?

After more than twenty years as a starting quarterback and seven Super Bowl titles, quarterback Tom Brady has picked up his fair share of detractors. His success is a big part of why many people don’t care for him. [1]

But several scandals and cheating accusations have followed Brady and the Patriots. They’ve been accused of illegally filming other teams’ practices and in-game signals multiple times. [2]

And it reached a crescendo in 2014 when Brady was accused of modifying footballs to gain an advantage in the AFC Championship Game. [3]

Key Takeaways

  • Brady and the Patriots have been implicated in multiple cheating scandals that have involved illegally videotaping opponents and changing the PSI of footballs to gain an advantage.
  • This coupled with Brady’s long-term success has turned many people against him
  • Many remain staunch supporters of Brady, but the majority of people seem to have a negative opinion of him.

Everyone Loves an Underdog

Brady didn’t start as a despised figure. He burst onto the scene in 2001. A second-year quarterback taken in the sixth round, he was buried on the Patriots’ depth chart behind longtime starter Drew Bledsoe. [4]

But Bledsoe was injured in week 2, opening the door for Brady to take the reins. The Patriots went 11-3 the rest of the way and managed a huge upset in the Super Bowl over “the Greatest Show on Turf” St. Louis Rams with Brady under center. [5]

The story of this anonymous quarterback revitalizing a franchise that had never won a Super Bowl tugged at the heartstrings of many sports fans. Even during his brief retirement in 2022, many still remembered him as the plucky underdog after two decades of dominance and seven Super Bowl championships. [6]


The Underdog Becomes the Evil Empire

As is often the case, sustained success in sports will eventually turn the fans of other teams against you. If Brady had settled in as a solid quarterback and the Patriots were a good but not dominant team, it’s unlikely he would have become a target for many fans’ disdain. But Brady reached the playoffs ten times over the next twelve years, winning two more championships and playing in four Super Bowls total. [7]

That wasn’t all that was driving Brady and the Patriots’ plummeting approval rating. Allegations of cheating cropped up numerous times. The Patriots were accused of recording the Rams’ signals and practices before the 2001 Super Bowl and a former team employee later handed over tapes showing the Patriots had continued the practice through 2002. [8]

The Patriots have repeatedly denied the allegations and no punishment was ever levied for these incidents. Nor have they ever been proven true. [9]

The same cannot be said for a similar encounter in 2007 when a Patriots’ employee was caught filming the New York Jets defensive signals. Since every illegal action needs the word “gate” added to it thanks to the 1972 political Watergate Scandal, the event was given the moniker, “Spygate.” [10]

“Several people have suspected the Patriots of stealing signs,” wrote the New York Daily News, indicating that this was not a singular event or one rogue employee. The Patriots’ admitted to the crime and were fined a total of 750,000 dollars and forfeited their first-round draft pick the following year. [11]

While this incident didn’t directly involve Tom Brady, the close association brought more criticism to his front door and added to the list of reasons why more and more people couldn’t stand Brady or the Patriots. [12]


The Brady vitriol reached a fever pitch in 2014. During the Patriots’ shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Championship game, the Colts accused the Patriots and Brady of manipulating their game balls and deflating them below the league’s minimum PSI of 12.5. [13]

At halftime, with the Patriots leading 17-7, eleven of the twelve footballs designated for the Patriots’ offense measured below 12.5 PSI. The balls were reinflated, and the Patriots went on to a 45-7 win. They would beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl two weeks later. [14]

The Colts’ argued that the deflated footballs were easier to grip in the cold and wet conditions during the game and the NFL launched an investigation shortly thereafter. [15]

Brady deflected all questions and denied any wrongdoing. “I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” he said in his first press conference after the investigation. [16]

Further research by the NFL concluded Brady must have had at least, “some knowledge of wrongdoing.” [17]

Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season, fined the Patriots 1 million dollars, and stripped the franchise of two draft picks. [18]

But that was just the beginning. Brady, the NFLPA, and the Patriots filed appeals while the NFL insisted that the punishment be levied.

Multiple appeals and legal suits pushed Brady’s suspension back to the start of the 2016 season. Eventually, Brady accepted the punishment, missing the first four games of that season. [19]

Whether Brady and the Patriots were cheating, and how much of an advantage they gained in the AFC Championship became secondary. The controversy had turned public opinion against the superstar quarterback even more. [20]

Many now viewed him as a cheater, pointing to the destruction of his cell phone following the start of the investigation as all the proof needed. [21]


While Deflategate marked the last big scandal for Brady, he remains one of the most polarizing players in the league as he continues to play deep into his 40s. This is not to say that everyone despises Brady. Many Patriots fans remain intensely loyal even after he left for Tampa Bay, and some people are still staunch supporters. [22]

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