Patriots quarterback Tom Brady apologized for the Deflategate proceedings distracting attention from his team's accomplishments during the 2014 season.
“I'm sorry that whatever has happened has taken the focus away from my team and what we accomplished last season,” Brady said. “It should have been a very joyous offseason.”
The Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history last February, but the investigation of Brady and team employees for allegedly deflating footballs during the AFC Championship Game defined their offseason. Brady's four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate was overturned last week by federal judge Richard Berman, making the quarterback eligible to start in the Patriots' Week 1 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Brady was asked if he had any regrets about his level of cooperation during the investigation, which was cited by Goodell as a reason for upholding his suspension. After a long pause, Brady said, “That’s a tough question. Like I said, some of those things are pretty personal.”
As the interview extended into Brady's personal life, his interviewers asked him about the rumors that he could be divorcing his supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen. Brady said he and his wife are doing well without confirming or denying any plans for divorce.
“We're in a great place,” Brady said. “I'm a lucky man. ...I've been very blessed to have a great relationship with my life partner, and I don't see anything getting in the way of that.”
Brady's family life has entered into the Deflategate narrative several times, most notably last Friday when a man who said he was Brady's father phoned in to a San Francisco radio show and called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “flaming liar” for alleging that Brady is a cheater.
“Well I love my dad,” Brady said when asked to respond to his father's comments. “As a dad with three kids now it gets pretty emotional. He's been a great support for my entire life. I'm sure it's been hard for him, for my mom, for everyone in my family, just like it's been for me, and for everyone involved.
“It's been a tough, challenging several months, but I think it will be pretty exciting to run out there with my teammates on Thursday night and I think they'll be pretty excited too.”
The NFL regular season kicks off at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday when the Patriots host the Steelers at Gillette Stadium.
- Erin Flynn