During a press conference Thursday, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressed the Deflategate scandal that has consumed the NFL following the team’s win over the Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s AFC title game. “I always play by the rules,” Brady told reporters regarding allegations that the team knowingly used underinflated footballs to its benefit during the playoff game. “I believe in fair play. I will always believe in it.”
The controversy grew after the league reportedly discovered that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the game were significantly underinflated. It is standard for each team to provide a dozen balls for its offense to use throughout a game; the home team, in this case, the Patriots, must also supply 12 backup balls.
The allegations have soured the Patriots' blowout win over the Colts. It's believed the underinflated balls were easier to grip and handle, especially in the wet conditions of Sunday's game, and thus would have given New England an unfair advantage. The NFL requires all balls to be inflated to a specified pressure and weight. Internal investigations are still trying to determine how the balls became deflated.
Earlier on Thursday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick held his own press conference where he said he was “shocked” by allegations that the team did not use regulation balls, saying he had no explanation for what happened. He shifted attention to Brady after divulging that his star player had specific preferences in footballs.
During Brady’s press conference, the two-time Super Bowl MVP shed light on the process he goes through when selecting game balls.
“I pick the balls I want to use for the game. When I picked those footballs out, at that point they are perfect,” Brady said. “I don’t want people touching them, I don’t want people rubbing them, I don’t want people putting air in them or taking air out.”
Still, Brady maintains that his footballs were within the NFL’s regulations when he saw them before the game's start, and did not think about it once he selected them. “I didn’t think twice about them. I didn’t put one thought into it .. wasn’t an inkling of concern of mine.”
Though Brady and his teammates are shifting focus to the Super Bowl, where New England will take on the Seattle Seahawks, Belichick said the team will cooperate fully with the NFL to determine what happened.