FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he had no knowledge of any tampering with game footballs on Sunday prior to the playoff matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady described his involvement with balls used for the game. He said he arrived early before the game to choose the footballs he intended to use, selecting 24 of them to be used in that day's game.
"When I felt them, they were perfect," he said at a Thursday press conference. "I wouldn't want anyone touching those, I would zip those things up and lock them away until I got out on the field and had the opportunity to play with them, and that's what I thought I was doing."
He said that he did not know of any tampering with any of the game balls until he heard about it Monday morning on the radio.
"I was as surprised as anybody when I heard Monday morning what's happening," said Brady.
Brady said that he goes to a process of "breaking in" footballs prior to a game to make sure they are to his liking, but denied knowing about any deflation.
"When you use them, that's your equipment," he explained. "A football is something I use on every play. I want to be very familiar with the equipment that I'm using just like my cleats, just like my helmet, just like my pads.
"I choose the balls that I want to use for the game and that's what I expect to go out on the playing field with," said Brady.
The NFL says its investigation into whether the Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC title game is ongoing, after a report claiming the league found 11 of 12 balls were under-inflated.
Earlier Thursday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was "shocked" to hear about the initial reports of the tampered balls on Monday morning. He maintained that he had no knowledge of NFL protocol for how balls are handled after they are checked by NFL officials before kickoff.
"I would say I've learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew or have talked about it in the last 40 years that I've coached in this league," Belichick said. "I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and process that went through."
Belichick, who said the team is cooperating with the NFL's investigation, said that in his entire coaching career, he had never talked to a player or staff member about football air pressure.
"We play with what's out there," he said.
Brady said that the inflation standard required by the league is the "perfect grip" for him.
"I would never do anything outside the rules of play," he said. "I would never have anyone do anything that I thought was outside of the rules." But he said he also has questions about the under-inflated footballs. "There's nobody that I know that can answer the questions that I have."
Also, Belichick maintained that his team uses footballs that are inflated to about 12 1/2-pounds per square inch,the minimum allowed by the NFL, and pledged that the Patriots would inflate footballs more to prevent them from dropping under the legal limit.
"We will take steps in the future to make sure that we don't put ourselves in this type of situation again," he said.
The Patriots are no stranger to controversy. In 2007, the team was punished for videotaping sideline signals used by the New York Jets during a 2007 game, in a controversy that became known as "Spygate." Belichick was fined $500,000, and the team was docked $250,000 and stripped of its 2008 first-round draft pick.
In their second round playoff game last week, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh accused the Patriots of using an illegal formation during the game. The NFL later determined that was not the case.
The Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 2 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.