Team Brady balks at NFL 'Deflategate' probe, awaits sanctions

Thu May 7, 2015 5:51pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg and Larry Fine

(Reuters) - The team behind Tom Brady ran defense for the star quarterback on Thursday after a report found he likely knew footballs were deflated to the New England Patriots' advantage in a scandal that could lead to a multigame suspension and a tainted legacy.

As Brady's agent issued a stinging rebuke of the findings, the National Football League clammed up the day after releasing the 243-page "Deflategate" report, refusing to give a timetable or range on possible sanctions against Brady or the Patriots.

The four-time Super Bowl winner and three-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player may make his first public comments later on Thursday when he is scheduled to speak at Salem State University, just north of Boston, and take questions.

The report brought the obscure subject of deflating footballs out of the sports realm as the accusations dogged Brady, one of the most prominent sport stars in the United States, and the Patriots, one of the NFL's top teams over the last 20 years.

Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the NFL to investigate "Deflategate," said in his report the Patriots probably deliberately deflated footballs in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18 in the AFC championship game that put them in the 2015 Super Bowl.

Brady, 37, a future Hall of Famer married to supermodel Gisele Bündchen, was probably "at least generally aware" of the violations, the report said.

Don Yee, Brady's agent, said in a statement Thursday the report's "omission of key facts ... suggest(s) the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later."

As the NFL went through a tumultuous year that included high-profile cases of domestic abuse by players, Patriots owner Robert Kraft stood behind embattled Commissioner Roger Goodell, which some believe could affect how tough a penalty the league might hand down to Brady or the team.   Continued...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is congratulated by team president Jonathan Kraft after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Arizona February 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder