Bill Belichick said today that Tom Brady would be able to provide more information about how much air he prefers in his footballs.
And Brady followed through when he spoke about DeflateGate at Gillette Stadium this afternoon, taking the podium at 4:18 p.m.
“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said. “I have a process I go through before every game where I go in and take the footballs I want to use for the game.
“What happened Sunday night was the same process I always go through,” he continued. “I don’t think anything of it. I woke up Monday morning and answered a question on a radio show, and that was the first I heard of it.”
Following Sunday’s AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts, allegations surfaced that the Patriots illegally deflated their footballs to give themselves an unfair advantage in the wet weather. The NFL confirmed it was investigating Monday, but has not yet issued a ruling. Brady said in his press conference he had not been contacted by the league.
On Tuesday, media outlets reported 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls from Sunday’s game were found to be underinflated by at least two PSI.
Typically cool and collected, Brady was tense and emotional during Thursday’s half-hour exchange, his voice fluctuating in pitch and tone as he spoke.
Like Belichick this morning, Brady claimed ignorance of any tampering with the football.
“I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing,” he said. “I’m very comfortable saying that.”
Brady added he could not rule out any wrongdoing, but did not himself play a part in it. He later said his equipment managers, under whose care the balls are placed pre-game, told him they did not modify the balls and he believes them.
According to Brady, he tests several balls hours before game time and hands his favorites off to equipment staff. At that point, he said, he doesn’t touch the balls again until the center snaps them.
When asked how he couldn’t feel the difference between a NFL-legal 12.5 PSI ball and one two PSI under that mark Brady claimed he doesn’t have time to pay attention to that during game action.
“I’m not squeezing the balls, that’s not part of my process,” he said. “I grab it, fell the lace, I feel the leather, I feel the tack on the ball. That’s really what you go for. It’s not like I had ever squeezed the football. I just grip the football.”
Many fans, media members and players alike have decried the Patriots as cheaters in the wake of the accusations, suggesting the team skirted league rules to beat the Colts – which Brady flatly denied.
“I felt like we won the game fair and square,” he said. “We ended up playing a great opponent and I felt our team went out and played a great game, offensively, defensively, on special teams. It was a great accomplishment.”
If the league finds the team guilty of breaking rules, it could face a monetary fine and loss of draft picks.
Shortly before closing the press conference, Brady attempted to put the scandal in perspective and shift focus to the team’s Super Bowl matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, now just 10 days away.
“This isn’t ISIS, no one’s dying,” Brady said. “We’ll get through this and hopefully we can start preparing for Seattle and get our mind focused there, because they’re going to take all my mental energy for the next 10 days.”