Tom Brady has reportedly met with teammates and encouraged them to stay "focused on the Super Bowl" amid allegations that he intentionally had footballs deflated below the legal limit during the New England Patriots’ win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game Sunday.
According to a report from NBC News, Brady, who threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns and had one interception in the 45-7 victory, held a behind-closed-doors meeting with teammates Thursday to discuss the controversy, which has become the talk of the league as the Patriots prepare to face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl next Sunday.
NBC News reports that, during the meeting, Brady said he likes his footballs "a certain way," but the report did not indicate whether he told the team that his preference was to have the balls inflated to less than the NFL-required 12.5 pounds per square inch.
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Earlier in the week, Brady told Boston radio station WEEI that any accusations of improper tampering were "ridiculous" and said that he had "no idea" what the controversy was about.
Also Thursday morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick met with reporters to discuss the "Deflategate" controversy. During his news conference, Belichick denied any knowledge of or involvement in the deflating of footballs during the game. According to reports, 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs tested by the NFL were found to have been below the legal threshold.
"In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure," Belichick said, also adding that "Tom’s personal preference on his footballs (is) something he can talk about in much better detail than I can probably possibly provide."
Brady was scheduled to meet with the media at 3:45 p.m. ET Thursday – one day earlier than usual – to discuss the controversy, at which point many suspect he will take ownership for the underinflated footballs.