“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady told reporters in a news conference that was moved up a day so he could address the media. “I have a process I go through before every game where I go in and pick the balls, the footballs that I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect. 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.”
In a radio interview three years ago, Brady said he preferred playing with under-inflated footballs. He clarified Thursday by saying he likes footballs inflated to 12 1/2 pounds per square inch, the bottom end of the NFL’s acceptable range.
Of the accusations the Patriots cheat to win, Brady said: “Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has the right to believe whatever they want… Part of being in this position and putting yourself in the spotlight, open for criticism, that’s part of being a professional athlete.”
Brady, whose team is preparing to play Seattle in the Super Bowl, said he has not been contacted by the NFL. He said he likely would not have known if the footballs he chose before Sunday’s game were under-inflated, and that he typically doesn’t squeeze the footballs before he selects them.
Not every quarterback buys that.
Longtime NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, now an ESPN analyst, questioned that explanation.
“It’s very contradictory to my experiences,” Brunell said on the air after the news conference. “That is your livelihood. You’ve got to feel comfortable with the footballs. You’ve got to get them in your hands. You’ve got to dig your fingers into them. You’ve got to make sure they meet your specifications.”