Deflated: The Strategic Impact of the “Deflategate” Scandal on the NFL and its Golden Boy


  • Michael G. Strawser Bellarmine University
  • Stacie Shain Bellarmine University
  • Alexandria Thompson Bellarmine University
  • Katie Vulich Bellarmine University
  • Crystal Simons Bellarmine University


NFL, Deflategate, Tom Brady, New England Patriots, image restoration, agenda setting


In January 2015, the Indianapolis Colts informed the National Football League of suspicion of ball deflation by the New England Patriots in a playoff game. What followed was a multi-year battle between the NFL, a “model” franchise, and one of the league’s most polarizing players, Tom Brady. This case study details what would affectionately become Deflategate through the lens of agenda setting and primarily image restoration theories and contains an analysis of the public relations process.