Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick gave a press conference to say they have no idea how those footballs became deflated below NFL legal limits. Some commentators are already poking holes in Brady's story. Whatever really happened, people across the country are wondering how serious is it to deflate a football - and should the Patriots continue on to the Super Bowl?
MSN Sports reports that Tom Brady was asked point-blank is he was a cheater. He answered, "I don't believe so."
"I feel like I've always played within the rules. I would never do anything to break the rules. I believe in fair play, and I respect the league."He added, "I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I have no idea what happened."
For readers not familiar with "Deflategate," the controversy started when game officials discovered that 11 out of the 12 balls used by the Patriots in their game against the Colts were deflated below legal limits. Tom Brady maintains an exacting preference of 12.5 pounds per square inch, the bare minimum of the NFL's 12.5 to 13.5 psi legal range. The balls at the center of the scandal were only inflated at about 10.5 pounds.
Why does that matter?
More deflated balls are easier for the quarterback to grip, especially in wet, rainy weather.
Some commentators, like Mike Lupica at the Daily Mail, are punching holes in Brady's story. Asking how Brady can have such precise requirements when choosing the perfect balls to play with, then not noticing the difference in two pounds of pressure.
At the press conference, Tom Brady explained how he picks out the best 12 footballs to bring onto the field.
"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 them, taking any air out. To me, those balls are perfect, and that's what I expect when I show up on the field."According to NFL rules, each team chooses 12 balls, which are then inspected by game officials before play. Referee Walt Anderson inspected the Patriots footballs two hours and 15 minutes before the game started.
Despite Tom Brady's preferences and years as renowned pro football player, he insists that he could not tell the difference between the deflated balls and what he normally plays with.
"I get the snap, I drop back, I throw the ball," said Brady. "I don't sit there and try to squeeze it and determine that."Bill Belichick came out for a while to give his own denial.
"When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news report about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning."He went on to explain that he had learned more about the ball checking process in the past three days than in the last 40 years of coaching.
Both Tom Brady and Belichick's denials seem plausible for Patriots fans and people who don't see this as a particularly big deal. Still, someone or something deflated those footballs. Whoever gets caught will be in for a $25,000 fine.
Tom Brady spoke up for his team, explaining that this wasn't a crime within the Patriots organization.
"Yeah, I'm very comfortable saying that nobody did it, as far as I know," Brady explained, "You have to also understand that I was in the locker room preparing for a game. So I don't know what happened over the course of the process with the footballs."Although Tom Brady stressed that he had the utmost respect for the rules of the NFL, this just isn't that big of an issue, adding, "this isn't ISIS... no one's dying."
Tom Brady's full press conference can be seen here.
[Image Credit: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons]