There's a great article from Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman about the changing sentiment around the league about whether or not the Patriots were "railroaded" during DeflateGate. Freeman notes that executives around the league think that the Patriots are innocent in this case.
Freeman highlights that executives have familiarized themselves with the Ideal Gas Law and come to accept that the Patriots footballs were inflated to a reasonable level. They also dislike how the league intentionally leaked false information to ESPN in order to spin the public perception.
These reasons have led executives to put their support behind the Patriots, albeit behind closed doors to avoid the wrath of the league.
"I hate the Patriots. I despise them," one NFC team executive told Freeman. "But they really should get those picks back."
"The Patriots aren't victims," said another general manager, "but they are a cautionary tale for the rest of the league. They're a reminder the commissioner can do whatever he wants, and there isn't a damn thing any team can do about it."
And that's the main takeaway from this week's ruling that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can distribute whatever penalties he likes for basically whatever reason he wants.
The league executives were concerned for obvious reasons. "The league did not prove that the Patriots cheated, so the question is: How could it punish them anyway?," Freeman writes about the executives' sentiments.
It's too late, now. The Patriots won't have their first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, although some executives believe the Patriots will try to trade back into the 1st round. But perhaps there will be enough of a backlash that Goodell will lose some of his power in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.