Freeman wrote that when he spoke to these sources months ago, the consensus was that the Patriots "obviously cheated." Now, not only do those sources believe the league botched its investigation, they believe that's the consensus around the rest of the league as well.
Though other teams have not been directly impacted, the punishment has been jarring for the league at large.
What was particularly upsetting to the people Freeman spoke with was that the Ideal Gas Law wasn't considered by the league early in the process. They believe that could have explained the air pressure in the footballs during the AFC Championship Game in January of 2015. They were also irked that a report was leaked to ESPN that 11 of the 12 Patriots game-used footballs were underinflated. That report was later deemed inaccurate.
Even if those two issues are taken separately, for other teams in the league -- teams that would like to see the Patriots fail -- to want New England's picks returned is surprising. It just goes to show how the rest of the NFL feels about Goodell's broad powers to punish.
There is obviously a large portion of people who believe the Patriots cheated, but at least it's nice to see some people changing their minds in favor of the Pats.