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Tom Brady struggled to bring some perspective on Thursday to the absurdist football drama known as Deflate-Gate.
“This isn’t ISIS,” he said. “No one’s dying.”
But Brady, the celebrity quarterback of the New England Patriots, said he could not explain why footballs might have been deflated below league standards, theoretically making them easier to throw and catch, in the game that sent his team to the Super Bowl.
Brady denied wrongdoing and said he had never knowingly played with a football that did not meet league regulations.
“I would never do anything to break the rules,” he said. “Everyone’s obviously trying to figure out what happened.”
Brady said that before the AFC championship game, in which the Patriots routed the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, he went through the same process he does before any game — going over the footballs and selecting the ones that felt right.
Under NFL rules, each team supplies 12 footballs to the league to use while it is on offense. ESPN has reported that an NFL investigation found the footballs supplied by the Patriots to be 2 pounds below standard, but Brady said that he has not been contacted by any league investigators.
“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. To me, those balls are perfect. And that’s what I expect when I show up on the field.”
He did say that his ideal grip is a football with 12.5 pounds per square inch of pressure — the low end of what’s allowed under league rules. The NFL is still investigating, and Brady passed up a chance to dismiss the scandal as a media-generated distraction.
“The integrity of the sport is very important,” he said. But he added that he felt the Patriots “won the game fair and square.”
Earlier in the day, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he knew nothing about it — although he suggested that Brady might have answers.
“Tom’s personal preferences on his footballs are something that he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide,” Belichick told reporters. “I have no explanation for what happened.”
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