|(1/22/15) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told a jam-packed room of reporters he "didn't alter the ball in any way" for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Colts.
"When I pick the footballs out [before the game], at that point to me they're perfect," he said. "I don't want anyone touching the balls after that. ... That's what I expect when I show up on the field."
Brady said he would "never do anything outside the rules of play" and had "no knowledge of any wrongdoing" by anyone on the Patriots' staff. Brady said he likes the footballs inflated to 12.5 pounds per square inch of pressure, the minimum of the legal 12.5-13.5 range.
The NFL found 11 of 12 game balls the Patriots used in the first half against Indy were significantly underinflated after being deemed legal before the game, according to ESPN. The league is investigating and has yet to release its findings. Brady said he had not been contacted by the NFL.
Although the refs replaced the underinflated footballs for the second half, Brady insisted he didn't notice any difference. "From the first half to the second half, I didn't think twice about it," he said. "Once I approved the ball, that's the ball I expected out there on the field."
Earlier Thursday, coach Bill Belichick said he was shocked to learn of the allegations Monday morning and that he had "no knowledge of the situation whatsoever." Belichick said Brady would be in better position to address the issue.
"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 said.
NBC News reported Brady met with teammates Thursday afternoon, told them he prefers footballs "a certain way" and urged them to remain focused on the Super Bowl. In his news conference, Brady declined to say what he told his teammates.
And how the footballs got underinflated, he said, is a mystery to him.
"I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I don't know what happened," Brady said. "I have no explanation for it."