SALEM, Massachusetts (Reuters) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday the team's Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks was not tainted by the "Deflategate" investigation, but he declined to directly respond to the probe's findings.
"No, absolutely not," Brady said during a speaking engagement at Salem State University when asked if the scandal over deflated footballs raised questions about the team's 28-24 victory over the Seahawks in February.
Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the NFL to investigate the scandal that has been widely referred to as "Deflategate," said in his report released Wednesday that the Patriots probably deliberately deflated footballs in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game that put them in the 2015 Super Bowl.
The report also said Brady, 37, a future Hall of Famer, was probably "at least generally aware" of the violations.
A four-time Super Bowl winner and three-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, Brady may face some form of punishment, perhaps a suspension, in the coming days by the NFL.
Brady, who had scheduled the speaking engagement long before the Wells report was released, said "hopefully soon" when asked when he would discuss the matter publicly.
"There is still a process that is going forth right now and I am involved in that process," he told the sold-out crowd at the school north of Boston.
"Whenever that happens, it happens. I certainly want to be very comfortable in how I feel about the statements that I make."
The crowd at Salem State, 15 miles (24 km) north of Boston, was solidly behind Brady and booed when moderator Jim Gray brought up the scandal.
When asked if he cared what people thought about him, Brady replied: "As a human, you care what people think. I certainly care what the people that are close to me think and what they care about.
"Also as a public figure, you learn that not everyone is going to like you either. So, good, bad, indifferent, there's a lot of people that don't like Tom Brady, and I'm okay with that."
Taylor Krajew, 25, came to the event with her friend.
"We’ve loved Tom since we were 12," she said. "He can do no wrong in our eyes. That probably sounds uneducated, but (deflating the footballs) I think a lot of people in the NFL do. He just maybe got caught."
Brady, who appeared uncomfortable at times when asked about the Wells report, said "life so much is about ups and downs."
"Certainly I accept my role and responsibility as a public figure and a lot of it you take the good with the bad," he said. "Dealing with different adversities in life, you just try to do the best you can do."
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Ken Wills