The New England Patriots' Tom Brady rubbished suggestions he broke the rules during the AFC championship game regarding underinflated balls.
Just over six hours after New England coach Bill Belichick talked about the controversy surrounding the team using underinflated balls during the AFC championship game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took the podium.
According to reports, the NFL found after after the match against the Indianapolis Colts, which New England won 45-7, that 11 of the Patriots' 12 game balls did not reach the league's requirements for air pressure.
But the 37-year-old QB denied claims that he had been responsible for reducing the pressure in the balls.
"I'd much rather be up here talking about the Super Bowl," Brady said as he started his media conference.
"I didn't alter the balls in any way," he continued and later likened his process of "breaking in" footballs before a game to how a baseball player will break in a new mitt.
Brady, who reportedly held a "closed door" meeting with team-mates earlier in the day to discuss the issue, also said the process the "equipment guys" use makes the balls perfect.
"I don't want anyone touching them or rubbing them," Brady said.
"I didn't think twice about it. Once I approve a ball, that's the ball I expect out there on the field. There wasn't even a thought or inkling of a concern that they were any different. I just assume it's the same one I approved in the pre-game.
"Once I'm on the field, I'm thinking of the defence and not thinking about how the ball feels."
Brady reiterated several times that he uses the same process of breaking in a ball each week.
"It's always the same process," said Brady.
"I go in and choose however many balls are necessary for the game.
"I've always played within the rules. I believe in fair play and I respect the league."
While the NFL's investigation into the issue in ongoing, Brady said he has yet to be contacted by league officials.
"Everyone's trying to figure out what happened," Brady said.
"I was surprised as anyone when I heard Monday morning what happened. The last few days people have been trying to figure it out and the NFL is.
"I have no knowledge of any wrong doing. I'm very comfortable saying that."
While Brady laughed off the controversy Monday morning during a radio interview, he admitted Thursday that it is a "very serious topic" and threatens the integrity of the sport.
"It was early Monday morning and I laughed it off thinking it was more sour grapes," Brady said Thursday.
Brady said the purpose for his meeting with teammates was to keep them focused on the Seattle Seahawks, whom the Patriots will face in Super Bowl XLIX on February 1.
Brady does not like "the fact that this takes away" from the team's accomplishment of getting back to the Super Bowl and believes New England's victory over the Colts was not tainted.
"I felt like we won the game fair and square," said Brady, who threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
"Hopefully our best is still to come."