New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said the scandal surrounding his underinflated footballs hasn’t taken anything away from the team’s Super Bowl win.
"Absolutely not," Brady told a cheering crowd at Salem State University in Massachusetts, when asked by sportscaster Jim Gray — at a speaking engagement that was scheduled months before Wednesday’s damning report came out.
"Because we earned and achieved everything we got this year, and I’m very proud of that and our fans should be too," Brady added.
Thursday night's appearance was the first time the star quarterback has answered questions on the matter since the report was released.
The crowd was a friendly one. Fans chanted "MVP! MVP!" as he took the stage. After Gray asked Brady what his response is to the report, someone in the crowd shouted "Who cares?"
"See, I can’t usually say those things," Brady said with a laugh. "I don’t have really any reaction."
"Our owner commented on it yesterday, and it’s only been 30 hours so I haven’t had much time to digest it fully, but when I do I’ll be sure to let you know how I feel about it — and everybody else," Brady said.
Asked when he would comment on the report, Brady answered "hopefully soon."
"There’s still a process that’s going forth right now, and, you know, I’m involved in that process," Brady said. "Whenever it happens, it happens, and I’ll certainly want to be very comfortable in how I feel about the statements that I make."
Investigators hired by the NFL concluded in a report released Wednesday that it was "more probable than not" that New England Patriots personnel intentionally deflated footballs and it was probable that Brady was "at least generally aware" of the practice.
The report was commissioned by the NFL after it was revealed that underinflated balls were used in the AFC championship game. Underinflated balls can be easier to throw and catch, especially in bad weather.
The investigators faulted Jim McNally, a Patriots locker room attendant, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant, for an apparent effort to let air out of game balls for the AFC championship game in January, which the Patriots won, 45-7 in rainy conditions.
It quoted text messages between McNally and Jastremski, months before the AFC title game, suggesting that Brady was asking for underinflated game balls, and that the quarterback expressed his displeasure when they were not to his liking. It also quoted McNally asking for signed footballs and shoes in exchange for deflating game balls.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday the league is weighing whether to take disciplinary action.
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, earlier Thursday criticized the report and said investigators reached a conclusion first and "determined so-called facts later."