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Bill Belichick 'shocked' to learn of football controversy

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Coach Bill Belichick on Thursday acknowledged that he was "shocked" this week to learn of the NFL's investigation of overly deflated footballs allegedly used by the Patriots during the AFC title game.

Addressing a swarm of reporters, Belichick addressed the controversy with a prepared statement:

"When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.

"I would say I learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew or had talked about it in the last 40 years that I've coached in this league.

"I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and the process that went through -- that happened between -- when they were prepared and went to the officials and went to the game, so I learned a lot about that.

"I obviously understand that each team has the opportunity to prepare the balls the way they want. Give them to the officials and the game officials either approve or disapprove the balls, and that really was the end of it for me, until I learned a little more about this the last couple days."

Belichick went on to say that his personal coaching philosophy has always been to make conditions as "tough as possible" for players in practice. He insisted that any current or past player of his would attest that the footballs the team practices with are "as bad as they can be," and "however bad we can make them, I make them, and any time the players complain about the quality of the footballs, I make them worse."

Said Belichick: "We never use the condition of the footballs as an excuse."

Belichick argued that quarterbacks, kickers and specialists have certain preferences on footballs and "know a lot more about it than I do, and are a lot more sensitive to it than I am," adding that "there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject -- zero."

Talking of his star quarterback, Belichick said of Tom Brady: "Tom's personal preferences on his footballs are something that he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide."

Belichick repeatedly denied "any explanation" of what happened to his team's footballs against the Colts.

"I can tell you that in my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure. That is not a subject that I have ever brought up," Belichick said. "To me, the footballs are approved by the league and game officials pregame, and we play with what's out there. And that's the only way that I have ever thought about that."

Belichick promised the team would "take steps in the future" to ensure the Patriots don't find themselves in the same situation again, before noting that the franchise has "cooperated fully, quickly and completely with every request" of the league's investigation.

The coach went so far as to say that he has "never touched a game ball, that's not something that I have any familiarity with," reiterating that the entire controversy was a mystery to him until Monday morning, while saying: "I really can't think of anything that I would have done differently based on what I knew then."

"I have no explanation for what happened," Belichick said. "And that's what they're looking into."

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the Patriots' deflated footballs controversy and tells you whom to trust in Super Bowl XLIX. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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