Earlier this week NFL columnist Mike Freeman tweeted the following:
Unpopular belief: public opinion of Tom Brady outside of New England has shifted. Most people like him now. Don’t see him as a cheater. Instead view him as someone who has outlasted the accusations.
(Shifts auxiliary power to the weapons)
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 26, 2019
So we thought we would test it.
We surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults about their perceptions of the four quarterbacks and four head coaches that made the conference championships two weeks ago. Of these eight people, Drew Brees had the highest positive impressions: 41% positive, with 7% negative (net score of +34). While 37% had positive impressions of Tom Brady, 26% had negative impressions (net score of +12). Patrick Mahomes, probable MVP, had the third highest positives: 30%, with 6% negative (net score of +24).
Bill Belichick tied with Sean McVay for the lowest positives (23%) but had higher negatives (18%), for a net score of +5 compared to McVay’s +17.
What one word comes to mind when people think of Tom Brady? 11% said “cheater”, but only 1% referenced deflation (“deflating footballs”, “deflate-gate”, “deflate”). Additionally, 6% said “good”, 4% “GOAT” [Greatest of All Time], another 4% “greatest”, and 3% each said “talented” or “winner”.
Will he be a winner on Sunday? 38% are rooting for the Rams to win Super Bowl LIII, and 26% are rooting for the Patriots (37% aren’t rooting for either).
Of the 636 with an opinion of Tom Brady, 60% like him and 40% dislike him (compare to the 86-88% with opinions who like Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, Jared Goff, and Sean McVay). While 80% like Sean Payton, only 57% like Bill Belichick.
So Mike is right: most people with an opinion of Tom Brady like him, and not many view him primarily through the lens of cheating.
Check out the slides for more details, including the methodology.