Fans are seizing the opportunity to get the New England Patriots back on its feet, after the American football team was served a $1 million fine and quarterback Tom Brady hit with a four-game suspension.
Patriots fan, Michael J. Whitman, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on gofundme.com, asking for donations towards the Super Bowl champion's million-dollar fine.
In the last 20 hours, over $3,500 has been donated by more than 240 people. The campaign is also starting to make an impact on social media, with more than 4,300 shares online.
Despite acknowledging that he probably won't raise $1 million, Whitman was defiant about helping out his team.
"We obviously know we won't reach One Million Dollars, however we do believe the fine is bulls**t and want to help anyway we can. So whatever is donated will be donated to the New England Patriots in help with the fine!" Whitman said on the campaign's page.
The team was hit with the fine on Monday after the National Football League (NFL) ruled that the Patriots had deliberately underinflated footballs before an AFC championship game in January.
The announcement created a storm on social media, with #DeflateGate trending on Twitter. Some fans tweeted that the punishment was "ridiculous" and "too harsh," while others agreed with NBC sportscaster, Bob Costas, and added that a stiffer penalty was warranted.
Robert Kraft, CEO and chairman of New England Patriots, said in a statement on Monday that while he accepted the punishment, it "far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence."
"We are humbled by the support the New England Patriots have received from our fans throughout the world. We recognize our fans' concerns regarding the NFL's penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled," Kraft added.
On top of the fine and Brady's suspension without pay for 2015's first four regular games, the team must forfeit its first-round choice in the 2016 NFL Draft and its fourth-round pick in 2017.
Two of the Patriots' equipment staffers, John Jastremski and James McNally, have been suspended until further notice without pay.