FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Super Bowl is taking a back seat to “deflate gate.”
The New England Patriots are under pressure for allegedly deflating footballs prior to last week’s AFC Championship game. Thursday afternoon, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady publicly denied any wrongdoing.
In an eight-and-a-half minute statement, he said he had no explanation for what happened, and he was blindsided by the news.
“I was completely and totally unaware,” Belichick said.
Belichick said he didn’t know he and his team were accused of underinflating eleven of the Patriots’ 12 footballs in their win over the Colts.
“I didn’t alter the football in any way,” Brady said.
Brady said it wasn’t him. He said he went through his usual pregame routine where he picked out the footballs he wanted.
“They were perfect,” he said. “I wouldn’t want anyone touching those. I would zip those things up and lock ‘em away until I got out on the field and had the opportunity to play with them, and that’s what I thought I was doing.”
Brady said his perfect football weighs in at 12.5 pounds per square inch – the low end of the allowed inflation range. Belichick said he learned of the psi minimum this week.
“Knowing that now, we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game,” he said.
Brady said he didn’t think the increase in inflation would require any adjustments to his game.
But the future fix won’t silence the critics that are calling Brady, Belichick and the Patriots cheaters.
“I mean, I feel like I’ve always played within the rules,” Brady said. “I would never do anything to break the rules. You know, I believe in fair play, and I respect the league.”
“It’s unfortunate, and we’d rather be celebrating our trip to the Super Bowl,” Patriots Special Teams Captain Matthew Slater said.
The NFL is in the middle of an ongoing investigation in which Belichick said he and the team have cooperated fully, quickly and completely with every request the league has made and will continue to do so going forward.
In the meantime, Belichick said his focus is on the Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl XLIX.