Tom Brady on Deflategate: Top Comments, Reaction on Latest Patriots Scandal

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2015

Greg M. Cooper/USA Today

Hours after New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick subtly deflected blame for the team's "Deflategate" scandal at his quarterback, Tom Brady addressed the media to say he had "no knowledge of any wrongdoing" regarding the game balls used in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

"I feel like I've always played within the rules," Brady said, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk. "I would never do anything to break the rules. I believe in fair play, I respect the league and everything they're doing to try to create a competitive playing field for all the NFL teams."

The NFL is currently investigating whether the Patriots knowingly deflated game balls below the league's acceptable threshold in their 45-7 win over Indianapolis. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported league officials found 11 of the 12 balls being used by the Patriots were two pounds per square inch under league specifications when tested at halftime.

A WEEI report indicated officials forced the Patriots to use backup balls in the second half. Teams regularly provide 12 game balls and 12 additional backups for each contest. Brady said he did not notice a change in air pressure.

Bleacher Report's Chris Simms offers his take on whether Brady would have noticed a difference:

"I didn't think twice about it," Brady said, per USA Today. "Once I approve the ball, that's the ball I expect out there on the field."

On Friday, Jan. 23, NFL Communications (full version here) released the league's statement on the situation:

Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.

“The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss.

Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials,and third parties with relevant information and expertise.

While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action.

The Patriots released their statement as well, per Boston.com's Erik Frenz:

Erik Frenz @ErikFrenz

Robert Kraft's statement on #Deflategate http://t.co/PxCIMYSxl5

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe discuss reaction to Deflategate in the video below:

Mortensen cited a source saying the league was "disappointed...angry...distraught" over the situation. Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the league expects to have the investigation wrapped up soon.

"We obviously want to get that on the table, get that behind us so that we can really get back to the game itself," Vincent said.

Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal indicated Brady is yet to speak with NFL investigators:

Mark Daniels @MarkDanielsPJ

Brady reiterates the league still hasn't contacted him: "They may. I think that's obviously their choice."

The Patriots' stance so far has been one of plausible deniability.

Albert Breer of NFL Network followed up with the league regarding the investigation:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Asked the NFL why they haven't reached out to Brady, if they plan to soon. They declined comment.

Belichick spoke with reporters earlier Thursday, indicating he was not involved in any conspiracy or potential conspiracy for the balls to be deflated below league minimums. Belichick categorized himself as "shocked" by the situation, and his presser took an interesting turn when he seemed to lay the blame at the feet of Brady.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massac
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

"I hear [quarterbacks, kickers, specialists] 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," Belichick told reporters. "Tom's personal preferences on his footballs is something he can talk about in much better detail and information than I can possibly provide."

While Brady didn't directly have a response for Belichick's comments, he was aware of the talk about him admitting he prefers softer footballs, as noted by ESPN's Bob Ley:

Bob Ley @BobLeyESPN

Tom Brady, on preferring softer footballs: "I read that I said that."

Brady, who said he meticulously approves every ball hours before the game, said he wouldn't have approved of any changes if they were made after the fact.

"When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they're perfect," Brady said, per Smith. "I don't want anyone touching the balls after that, I don't want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in, taking any air out, to me those balls are perfect and that's what I expect when I'm on the field."

Referee Walt Anderson approved the Patriots' under-inflated game balls two hours and 15 minutes before game time, long after they'd been chosen by Brady. The New England signal-caller indicated the equipment managers are responsible for the "process" of getting the balls ready, per Doug Kyed of NESN:

Doug Kyed @DougKyed

Brady said he picks which balls he wants before the game. Says the equipment guys do a great job preparing the balls. They're perfect.

Brady also tried offering a little perspective to the situation, as noted by Bob Glauber of Newsday:

Bob Glauber @BobGlauber

Tom Brady on #deflategate: "This isn’t ISIS. No one’s dying.” #perspective

It's unclear how the NFL will react to the situation. The league's rulebook calls for up to a $25,000 fine for teams convicted of altering game balls, but this is a situation that likely merits swifter action. The integrity of one of the NFL's three biggest games was called into question because of allegedly malfeasant acts from New England—whether Brady, Belichick or anyone knew it.

How Roger Goodell handles the situation will likely determine whether it'll blow over come Super Bowl Sunday or be a controversy that engulfs the United States' most popular sporting event.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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