In a previously scheduled appearance Thursday night at Salem State University in Salem, Mass., New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady largely deflected questions about the ongoing Deflategate scandal, saying it did not "taint" the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX victory.
Brady said he would not directly address the findings of the report released Wednesday by independent investigator Ted Wells that determined Patriots personnel likely manipulated the air pressure of footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. The report found "it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules."
Moderater Jim Gray, the longtime broadcaster currently working for Fox, Showtime and Westwood One radio, began the discussion by saying to Brady, "We're going to deal with it, and then we're going to move on with the evening. Tom, what is your reaction to the Ted Wells report?"
The question was greeted by cheers—Salem is about 40 miles from the Patriots home at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.—before Brady said, "I don't really have any reaction, Jim. Our owner commented on it yesterday, and it's only been 30 hours so I haven’t had much time to digest it fully. But when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how I feel about it. And everybody else."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement on the Wells Report shortly after it was released on Wednesday, saying, "To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement."
Gray later asked Brady if the controversy had detracted from his joy of winning the Super Bowl. Brady responded, "Absolutely not," drawing loud applause from the crowd. When Gray asked, "Why not?" Brady answered, "Because we earned and achieved everything that we got this year as a team, and I'm very proud of that. And our fans should be, too."
When Gray asked if the Patriots' Super Bowl title was "tainted," Brady laughed, which drew boos from the audience, and said to the crowd, "What do you guys think? Neither do I," responding to the boos.
Brady otherwise dodged talk of the 243-page report, saying he needed more time to read it and would address it "hopefully soon."
Thursday's comments were Brady's first since he denied involvement in the controversy in January.
Video of Brady's comments Thursday is available to watch on NFL.com.
- Mike Fiammetta