New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick denied any involvement in his team’s deflated football scandal in a lengthy press conference statement on Thursday.
In doing so, he refocused the spotlight on quarterback Tom Brady, who will make his own statement at 4 p.m. eastern time.
Belichick said he was “shocked” when he first heard about the scandal, adding that he has nothing to do with the game balls and didn’t even know the ball procedure rules until this week.
“I had no knowledge whatsoever about this situation until Monday morning,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew, or had talked about, in the last 40 years that I’ve coached in this league.”
Belichick acknowledged that players have personal preferences when it comes to footballs, but said that is completely outside the scope of his responsibilities.
Belichick basically told the press to direct their questions to Brady, who knows more than him (transcript via PFT):
“I’m trying to coach the team and that’s what I want to do. I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on the footballs. They know a lot more than I do. They’re more sensitive to it than I am. I hear them comment on it from time to time, but I can tell you and they will tell you that there’s never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. 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. 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.”
The “never any sympathy whatsoever” is particularly pointed. Belichick added that he prides himself on making his players use poor-quality footballs that are hard to play with in practice:
“Wet, sticky, cold, slippery, whatever. However bad we can make them, I make them. Any time that players complain about the quality of the footballs, I make them worse, and that stops the complaining. So we never use the condition of the footballs as an excuse.”
When asked repeatedly about the balls, Belichick said over and over again, “I have no explanation for what happened.”
Belichick spoke narrowly about his own knowledge of the situation. He denied any involvement, but made no general statements on the behalf of Brady, the equipment managers, and the rest of the organisation.
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