While many Indianapolis Colts fans are trying to forget about the New England Patriots, at least for now, Jim Purucker just can’t let it go.
And I’m not just talking about Sunday’s tough loss or even last year’s playoff shellacking at the hands of the team from Foxborough.
Purucker has launched an effort to tarnish the Patriots legacy—permanently.
On Oct. 14 he launched a website, footballcheaters.com, and started a petition drive to try to sway the NFL to put an asterisk beside the Patriots results in the record book during the Bill Belichick era.
During the time Belichick has coached the Patriots, the team has been accused of illegally filming opponents’ sideline activities during games and even filming an opponent’s practice. Last year, they were accused—chiefly by the Colts—of using underinflated footballs during games.
“We need your help so the NFL hears from their fans that we don’t want the Patriots’ cheating ways to fade away like Tom Brady’s punishment for Deflategate did,” Purucker wrote on his website.
The 51-year-old Indianapolis resident—and self-described diehard Colts fan—insists this initiative is no joke. And he has plenty of experience with moving the needle on a cause.
Purucker, president of John Frick and Associates, has been a lobbyist for nearly 30 years representing the alcohol, gaming, insurance, financial services, child care and aviation industries.
Purucker got the idea for what he’s calling The Asterisk Project after last year’s AFC championship game at New England, which he attended with his son.
“I left the game thinking, ‘Why couldn’t the Colts be more like this [Patriots] team? They really have it together.’ Then to find out they were cheating, it really infuriated me, and I thought we should do something about this,” Purucker told the IBJ Thursday. “To see the arrogant way the Patriots dealt with the NFL investigation just infuriates you more. They’re thumbing their nose at the entire world, and I think we should do something about it.”
Purucker started his drive by handing out flyers and selling about 300 T-shirts at the Colts-Patriots game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. He also hired a plane to fly over downtown Indianapolis with a message evoking memories of Deflategate.
“People loved it,” he said. “If we would have had 5,000 T-shirts, we’d have sold them all.”
Patriots backers naturally don’t love the campaign.
“I’m getting quite a bit of grief on Patriots blogs and websites,” Purucker said. “I’ve had to look up a few words they’re calling me right now.”
So far, Purucker said, he’s attained a few thousand signatures and raised a few thousand bucks.
He’s also used a few thousand dollars of his own money to kick-start the campaign and is hoping to raise enough money to either travel to every Patriots away game to gather signatures on a petition or have someone else there doing likewise.
There are five more Patriots away games this year, with the next one against the New York Giants Nov. 15. Purucker said the initiative could continue next season.
“We want to raise enough money to have a more professional marketing campaign than one person can do on his own,” Purucker said. “We definitely want someone—boots on the ground—at every Patriots away game doing some guerilla marketing.”
The marketing campaign could grow to include billboards and airplane banners flown during all Patriots away games. Purucker thinks 5 million signatures will get the attention of NFL executives.
“What we’d like to have is a nationwide, grass-roots petition effort to put an asterisk in the record book,” Purucker said. “In 10 years when people look at the record book and see this fantastic set of accomplishments that the Patriots have amassed, there ought to be an asterisk next to it. People should know the entire story.”
Purucker insists this isn’t a money-raising scam, adding that he’s seeking as little as $2 per person. Purucker figures there are so many Patriots haters out there, he should be able to raise plenty for his marketing campaign if everyone donates just a little.
All the money raised will go into marketing The Asterisk Project, Purucker said, adding that none will go in his pocket.
But, he said, you don’t have to pay a dime to support his effort.
“Just as long as you sign the petition and get the word out through social media or any other means,” he said. “All we’re asking is that people don’t let this die—and that the NFL set the record book straight.”