In the midst of the Deflategate saga last year, the Patriots passed the Cowboys as America’s most disliked NFL team. Not surprisingly, a run to the Super Bowl hasn’t changed things.
For the second year in a row, New England was tabbed as least favorite squad by the most respondents in an annual football-centric survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, although the margin over Dallas has tightened since last year’s poll. The Patriots came out on top (or the bottom) with a margin of two percentage points this year, 21 to 19. New England held an advantage of three percentage points in 2016, when PPP announced that the Cowboys had been out-hated for the first time since they began conducting the survey.
The poll, conducted among 378 NFL fans contacted last week mostly by phone, has a margin of error of plus or minus five percent points, so Dallas might actually still be America’s Team People Love to Hate. But the poll confirms that Tom Brady and Co. have spent so many years dominating the NFL that fans have developed some pretty strong feelings about them.
It makes sense, then, that many more respondents said they were rooting for the Falcons, rather than the Patriots, in the Super Bowl (Atlanta was preferred by 53 percent of respondents compared with just 27 percent who wanted New England; 20 percent were not sure). The Falcons were picked by the fewest respondents, just 3 percent, when asked about their least favorite NFL squad (other listed options included the Bears, Broncos, Packers, Giants, Steelers and Seahawks, plus a possible answer of “another team”).
Tom Brady proved polarizing, emerging as both the most and least liked quarterback when given the options of him, Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and, for some reason, Tim Tebow. When asked who they thought would actually win the Super Bowl, most respondents went with the Patriots (52 percent to 36 percent over the Falcons).
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick was seen as more favorable than not (40 percent vs. 34 percent), but the same cannot be said of the team’s nemesis, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose job performance was viewed unfavorably by 37 percent of respondents, as opposed to favorably by 22 percent. Joe Flacco’s disappointing season resulted in more people saying he was not an elite quarterback than last year (41 percent vs. 35 precent).
More respondents this year thought the Redskins should not change their name, 69 percent vs. 64 percent last year, while the percentage saying the team should change its name dropped from 25 to 20. Meanwhile, the percentage who thought of the Cowboys as “America’s Team” crept up, from 27 to 30.
As for the question of whether Lady Gaga was a good choice to perform during halftime of the Super Bowl, the survey broke down along notably partisan lines. While 45 percent overall opted for “good” to 38 percent who gave the thumbs-down, just 32 percent of Donald Trump voters were pro-Gaga, compared with 57 percent of Hillary Clinton voters.