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Patriots' Tom Brady: I didn't 'alter the ball in any way'

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady insists he didn't "alter the ball in any way" during last week's AFC Championship Game vs. the Indianapolis Colts.

Addressing the NFL's investigation of overly deflated footballs, Brady explained that he went through the same process he always does.

"I go in and I take the footballs that I want to use for the game," Brady said. "Our equipment guys do a great job with breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those balls out, at that point to me they are perfect. I don't want anyone touching the balls after that, I don't want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in them, taking any air out.

"To me those balls are perfect and that's what I expect when I show up on the field. So that happened obviously on Sunday night, is the same process that I always go through. I didn't think anything of it."

Asked point-blank if he is a cheater, Brady replied, "I don't believe so. ... I would never do anything to break the rules."

Brady later added that he's "very comfortable" stating that nobody did anything wrong, to his knowledge.

Now that Brady and coach Bill Belichick have both emphasized plausible deniability, the issue is in the NFL's hands.

Here's what else we learned from Brady's news conference:

1. Brady said the equipment staff told him they didn't do anything to the footballs. "I believe them," said Brady, who added, "obviously, I'd like to know what happened."

2. Brady did not notice a difference between the balls used in the first half and those used in the second half. "I didn't put one thought into the football at that point," Brady said.

3. Queried about past on-the-record comments that he prefers a deflated ball, Brady responded, "I like them at 12.5 (PSI). That's the perfect grip for a football."

It's also the minimum PSI allowed by the NFL.

4. After initially laughing off the allegations as "ridiculous" on Monday, an uncomfortable Brady took a more somber tone on Thursday. His first instinct was that a "sour grapes" feeling was at the heart of the investigation. Now he believes, "this is a very serious topic. Obviously the integrity of the league is very important."

Brady believes the Patriots won the AFC Championship Game "fair and square."

5. Asked if investigators had talked to him about the deflated balls, Brady replied, "not yet."

In other words, this story won't be wrapped up anytime soon.

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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