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(Reuters) - Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has denied any wrongdoing over allegedly deflated footballs and said the NFL had yet to speak to him as part of their investigation following the AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady told a news conference on Thursday that he did not tamper in any way with the balls used in New England's rout of the Colts on Sunday and that he did not notice anything strange about them after picking out the 24 he wanted to use.
"I didn't alter the ball in any way," Brady said. "I have a process I go through before every game where I go in and take the footballs I want to use for the game.
"What happened Sunday night was the same process I always go through. I have no knowledge of anything, of any wrongdoing. I am very comfortable in saying that."
Brady said he had "not yet" spoken with NFL officials who are investigating whether the Patriots used deflated balls against the Colts to gain a better grip.
Asked directly if he was a cheat, Brady replied: "I don't believe so. I feel like I have always played within the rules, I would never do anything to break the rules. I believe in fair play and I respect the league."
Asked by a reporter whether he could feel any difference between the balls used in the first half and the second half, Brady said: "I didn't put one thought into the football at that point.
"Once I approve the ball that is the ball I expect out on the field. It wasn't even an inkling of a concern of mine that they were any different. I just assumed that they were the same ... first half, second half.
"Once I am out on the field, I have no thought of the football at that point. I am thinking about the defense, the execution of the play and what I need to do. I am not thinking about how the football feels."
Brady did say that he liked the ball inflated at the minimum legal pressure.
"I like them the way I like them, which is at 12.5 (pounds per square inch). For me, that is a perfect grip for the football. I would never do anything outside of the rules of the play," he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes