New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday that he has not yet been contacted by the NFL about its investigation into underinflated footballs, adding, “I didn’t alter the ball in any way.”
In a news conference that lasted just over 30 minutes, Brady detailed how he selected 24 footballs for referees to inspect before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect,” he said. “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.”
The NFL found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls from their win over the Colts were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s game told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
NBC News reported that Brady addressed the issue with his teammates Thursday, saying in a closed-door meeting that he likes footballs “a certain way” and that they should stay focused on the Super Bowl. When asked by reporters what he told teammates, Brady said those conversations were personal.
In his news conference, Brady said there’s a usual process he goes through in getting used to using game day footballs, explaining it’s like any other piece of equipment for him and that he prefers the football to be inflated at 12.5 pounds per square inch, which is the lowest end of the league requirement. “To me, that’s a perfect grip for the football,” he said.
Brady said he didn’t notice a difference between the footballs from the first half to the second half on Sunday.
“I’m not squeezing them, that’s not part of my process,” Brady explained. “I grab it. I feel the lace, the leather. I feel the tack on the ball. That’s really what you go for.”
Asked if he sought out members of the Patriots equipment staff to inquire if they altered the balls in any way Sunday, Brady said: “Yeah, and they haven’t, and I believe them. They also know how I like it and that’s exactly the way they are.”
The quarterback repeatedly professed his innocence in doctoring any of the footballs.
“I feel like I have always played within the rules,” he said. “I would never break the rules.”
SOURCE: Mike Reiss