I hope the NFL penalizes the hell out of the Patriots for stealing signals. Not because I'm offended by it, not because I think they're the only team that does it, and not because I think it gives them any unfair advantage. I want draft picks taken away from them because that would make them a weaker team, which would benefit every other team in the NFL.
Fans of almost every team in the NFL can realistically expect for their teams to be in the hunt for a playoff spot and maybe even the Super Bowl ever since the Rams went from 5-11 and the losingest team of the 90s to Super Bowl champs in 1999. (The Patriots also went from 5-11 to Super Bowl champs in 2001) So even a fan from a team like the Raiders, who just five years ago were in the Super Bowl but went 2-14 last year, can expect a slightly easier road back to competitiveness if the Pats fall off.
In addition, the Patriots are renowned for mocking NFL rules such as injury reports (Randy Moss wasn't on their injury report last week despite him missing most of training camp) and, of course, the dress code. In 2005, the Patriots were criticized for listing 15 players as "Probable" despite most being healthy because they were unhappy with a Michael Vick injury report. The following week they listed 14 as "Questionable" after being reprimanded by the league.
I posted a poll on DVDTalk asking how badly do you want to see the Patriots punished. I voted for "Reallocate Tom Brady" because it would give my team a greater chance of winning a championship and it would be a fun story to write and talk about. After 81 votes, while many think there should be no repercussions, almost as many think they should forfeit multiple first rounders. My prediction: they get the Lawrence Welk - a 1, a 2, and a 3.
What should the Patriots give up for stealing signals?
No punishment - 25.93%
Steep fine - 0%
Late round (6, 7) pick - 1.23%
Mid Round (4, 5) pick - 7.41%
2 or 3 2nd day picks - 2.47%
2nd or 3rd rounder - 3.7%
1st rounder - 12.35%
2 or 3 1st day picks - 18.52%
Multiple first rounders - 23.46%
Reallocate Tom Brady - 4.94%