Quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday night in his first comments since the NFL released its report on the New England Patriots’ use of deflated footballs during the NFL playoffs last season that the scandal hasn't detracted in any way from his Super Bowl title.
"Absolutely not," Brady told a friendly crowd at a university in his first public appearance since the NFL said Brady likely knew Patriots employees were cheating.
Brady declined to discuss his thoughts about the 243-page report that said that he was at least aware two team employees were breaking rules by deflating footballs for him.
The report by investigator Ted Wells found some of his claims were implausible in explaining why balls were underinflated during the playoffs last season.
"I don't have really any reaction," he said. "It's only been 30 hours, so I haven't had much time to digest it fully, but when I do, I will be sure to let you know how I feel about it."
Brady said he hopes to discuss the details publicly soon.
"There's still a process that's going forth right now, and I'm involved in that process," said Brady.
The quarterback was also asked about another recent controversy - his absence from the team's White House visit.
"Unfortunately, I couldn't make that. I had a family commitment. But the team enjoyed it, and it's such a great honor." I've been lucky to go there three times professionally, and then once when I was in college," Brady said. "It's a pretty cool place. You guys should go sometime. Hopefully we're back there next year."
The superstar quarterback spoke at a Q&A session moderated by sportscaster Jim Gray during a previously scheduled, sold-out event at Salem State University. He arrived by helicopter for the talk on leadership, avoiding a long line of fans outside and media waiting for him to enter. The event was delayed more than 30 minutes to allow fans to file in, including some wearing Brady jerseys. During the wait, the crowd chanted "Brady" and "MVP," then gave him a standing ovation as he walked in.
The report by NFL-appointed investigator Ted Wells issued Wednesday concluded that two New England Patriots employees violated rules covering game balls and that Brady was "at least generally aware" of plans to doctor the footballs to his liking.
Brady's agent, Don Yee, says the NFL was determined to blame Brady for deflated footballs in the 45-7 win over Indianapolis in the AFC title game, and the investigation omitted key facts and buried others.
The Patriots canceled prior plans to make two players available to reporters during voluntary team workouts held at the team's headquarters, then said nobody with the team would be available on Thursday. The team didn't respond to requests from The Associated Press seeking comment from Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was exonerated in the report.
Wells concluded there was no plausible explanation for the deflated footballs besides deliberate tampering. Text messages to and about Brady led to the conclusions that he was aware, if not more actively involved, in the scheme.
The NFL is now using Wells' findings as it considers potential punishment. Brady, the MVP of the 2015 Super Bowl, could be fined or face a suspension.
The Patriots are scheduled to play their opener against the Steelers in the kickoff game of the NFL regular season on Sept. 10.