FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bill Belichick and Tom Brady finally spoke about the deflated-football controversy at Gillette Stadium on Thursday and denied any knowledge of how balls they used in earning a trip to the Super Bowl became under-inflated.

Their separate news conferences left as many questions as they answered, and the biggest revelation may have been that Brady has yet to be contacted by the NFL.

“They may,” said Brady of the league’s investigators. “That’s their choice.”

Both Belichick, the New England Patriots head coach, and Brady, their star quarterback, said they did not know how the balls – which were inspected before the game and found to be within the range league rules stipulate – lost air during the team’s 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game on Sunday.

The NFL has been investigating the matter since it was discovered that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots in the game were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch. The NFL requires game balls to be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch.

Brady spoke for 30 minutes in the afternoon. Belichick spoke for nearly 12 minutes in the morning.

The quarterback told reporters, “I didn’t alter the ball in any way.”

He described the process in which he selects the balls to be used in a game – saying that he prefers his footballs to be inflated to the NFL minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch – and that he “didn’t know what happened” after that.

“I have questions too, but there’s nobody I know who can answer the questions I have,” he said.


Facing an overflow media crowd, Brady was pushed repeatedly to explain how he could not have noticed that the balls were under-inflated once the game started, given that he handles the ball on every offensive play.

“I don’t put any thought into the footballs after I choose them,” Brady said. “When you’re out there playing in front of 70,000 people, you don’t think about that, you’re just reacting to the game.”

He added, when pressed on the same question, “It’s not like I squeeze the football. I grip the football.”

Brady said he had talked to the equipment managers and was confident that they did not alter the footballs.

He stressed that he is not a cheater, saying, “I would never do anything to break the rules.”

He added that he felt the Patriots defeated Indianapolis “fair and square.”

Both Brady and Belichick said they did not know about the controversy until Monday morning.

Brady, in fact, dismissed the accusation at first, calling it “ridiculous” when it was mentioned to him during a radio interview on Monday.

Belichick, who was fined an NFL-record $500,000 in 2007 after the Patriots were found to have illegally videotaped coaches of the New York Jets from the sidelines, said he was likewise dumbfounded when he heard of the reports, which broke hours after the Patriots had beaten the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

“When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs,” Belichick said. “I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.”

Belichick said the team has cooperated with the NFL’s investigation “fully, quickly and completely with every request that they have made. We will continue to be cooperative in any way that we can. I have no explanation for what happened. That’s what they’re looking into.”

Based on what he knew beforehand about game ball preparation and regulations, which he said was very little, Belichick said, “I really can’t think of anything that I would have done differently.”

He did say that the team will change the way it prepares game balls, inflating them to the maximum 13.5 pounds per square inch, which would allow for some natural deflation without dropping below the minimum.

Belichick opened his news conference with a statement that lasted about eight minutes. Then he took questions, but answered few. His favorite replies: “I don’t have an explanation” or “I’ve told you everything I know.”


When Brady was asked if he thinks the situation is being overblown, he said, “It’s a very serious topic. Obviously the integrity of the sport is very important.”

As is the integrity of the team.

“I think we set a great example for the younger athletes, the younger kids,” he said. “We want to be the ones to set the great examples.”

For many of the Patriots players, who returned to practice Thursday after two days off, the deflated-ball controversy is a non-story.

“If it’s not helping us win, it doesn’t matter to us,” safety Devin McCourty said.

Running back LeGarrette Blount said the negative attention hasn’t bothered him at all.

“I just know that we did whatever we had to do to win the game, run the ball, throw the ball,” he said. “I don’t think the ball pressure played a role in any of it.”

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell was asked if he felt a difference in the balls in the second half, after the deflated ones were replaced.

“No, all game it was cold,” he said. “The ball was hard all game.”

While it’s unclear when the NFL will complete its investigation, both Belichick and Brady are hoping the Patriots can turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks and Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 in Arizona.

“Obviously I’d like to know what happened, as you all would too,” Brady said. “In the meantime I’m going to do the best I can to get ready to play the Seahawks.”