New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told the media on Jan. 22 that he didn't "alter the ball in any way" during the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18 against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots prevailed, 45-7, to advance to Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 against the defending champions Seattle Seahawks.
Tom Brady has denied any involvement in the infamous "DeflateGate" scandal.
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The New England Patriots quarterback spoke to the media on Jan. 22. He said he didn't "alter the ball in any way" during New England's 45-7 AFC Championship Game victory over the visiting Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18, per NFL.com's Chris Wesseling.
Brady said he didn't notice anything unusual about the footballs used for that game. He also denied being a cheater, per Wesseling:
"I go in and take the footballs that I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job with breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those balls out, at that point to me they are perfect. I don't want anyone touching the balls after that, I don't want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in them, taking any air out.
"To me those balls are perfect and that's what I expect when I show up on the field. So that happened obviously on Sunday night, is the same process that I always go through. I didn't think anything of it.
"I don't believe so...I would never do anything to break the rules."
Wesseling then lists several takeaways from Brady's news conference:
- Brady said he believes the Patriots equipment staff when they told him they had nothing to do with deflated footballs.
- Brady emphasized he didn't notice any difference between the balls used in the first half and those in the second half.
- He added he likes footballs inflated at 12.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) as that would facilitate "the perfect grip for a football."
- Brady initially labeled the accusations as ridiculous when the news first broke out on Monday. However, he said on Thursday that "this is a very serious topic. Obviously the integrity of the league is very important." He added that New England beat Indianapolis "fair and squre" on Sunday.
- Brady said "not yet" when asked if league investigators have already approached him.
The Patriots quarterback also explained how he goes through the motions when it comes to game balls, per ESPN's Mike Reiss. He quipped, "I'm not squeezing them, that's not part of my process. I grab it. I feel the lace, the leather. I feel the tack of the ball. That's really what you go for."
Brady also told ESPN he feels the whole DeflateGate issue has been blown out of proportion:
"This isn't ISIS, this isn't, you know, no one's dying. But you know, we'll get through this and hopefully we can really start preparing for (the) Seattle (Seahawks) and, you know, get our mind focused there, because they're going to take, you know, all my mental energy for the next 10 days."
According to the ESPN update, league sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that 11 of the 12 game balls used in the AFC title game last weekend were underinflated. The league forbids tampering of game-day footballs in any way once they have been inspected and cleared for use. If an individual is deemed guilty of tampering with the balls, he may be fined up to $25,000 and face stiffer sanctions from the NFL.
For his part, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he and his team are cooperating with the NFL during his own 11-minute press conference on Thursday. He also aired his side, per a separate update by Weiss:
"In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure. The footballs are approved by the league and officials pregame, and we play with what's out there. That's the only way that I have ever thought about that.
"I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do. They're a lot more sensitive to it than I am.
"I hear them comment on it from time to time, but I can tell you and they will tell you that there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. Zero. Tom's personal preferences on his football is something he can talk about in much better detail and information that I can possibly provide."
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