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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: ‘I didn’t alter the ball in any way’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady today denied any involvement with the use of underinflated footballs during Sunday’s NFL playoff win.

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said.

The quarterback answered questions from the media on Thursday for around 30 minutes, mainly focusing on an NFL investigation about underinflated footballs used during Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. During the news conference, which was moved up a day from Friday, Brady repeatedly iterated that he had no idea that the footballs had been altered during Sunday’s game.

“It wasn’t even a thought, an inkling of mine, that they were different.”

Asked by a reporter whether he was “a cheater,” Brady responded that he didn’t think 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 and, you know, everything that they’re doing to try to create a very competitive playing field for all the NFL teams.”

“It’s very serious,” Brady said. “This is a very serious topic. Obviously the integrity of the sport is very important.”

Brady, however, said he did not have any theories about what happened that could have caused 11 of the 12 game balls to have been underinflated. “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t know what happened. I have no explanation for it.”

Though the quarterback answered questions concerning the situation, he acknowledged that he wished he was there in an alternate circumstance. “I think it’s disappointing that a situation like this happens. Obviously I’d like to be up here talking in a joyful mood. These are the two best weeks of the year if you happen to be one of the two teams still playing. It should be a great two weeks. I’m obviously very disappointed that we have to be having a press conference like this.”

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke earlier on Thursday, and Hari Sreenivasan talked to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe on Wednesday’s PBS NewsHour about past cheating allegations against the Patriots.

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