Tom Brady has made his first public appearance following the damning Wells Report over the Deflategate scandal.
On Thursday afternoon, Brady arrived by helicopter to Salem State University in Massachusetts, 15 miles north of Boston, for a scheduled interview with broadcaster Jim Gray in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,000 people.
“I don’t really have any reaction yet [to the report], our owner commented on it yesterday. It has only been 30 hours and I haven’t had time to digest it fully but when I do I will be sure to let you know how I feel about it,” the New England Patriots quarterback said, after being welcomed with a standing ovation and roars of cheers from the audience chanting of “MVP.”
Gray asked when he would speak on the topic publicly, and Brady replied: “Hopefully soon, there is still a process going forth and I am involved in that process. Whenever it happens it happens. I certainly want to be very comfortable in how I feel about the statements that I make.”
The Wells Report — which stated Brady was at least “generally aware” that team employees deflated footballs below league standards before the Patriots’ NFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in January — has sparked a media circus with many sports fans brandishing Brady as a liar and a cheat, however he definitely had a home field advantage at Thursday’s event.
“This is like a Patriots pep rally, looks like you picked a friendly place to reappear,” veteran sportscaster Gray said at the outset of the interview. “However, there is an elephant in the room.”
Brady went on to say: “I accept my role and responsibility of being a public figure, you take the good and the bad. We will get through it. We will deal with this at a later date, this isn’t what this night was meant to be about.”
Has the scandal detracted from the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX win? “No, absolutely not,” he replied, saying they earned that achievement. “I certainly care what the people close to me think. You learn that not everyone is going to like you. There are people that aren’t going to like Tom Brady, I’m OK with that.
“I have teammates that I love and who love and support me,” he said, as the conversation swiftly moved from the scandal to the topic of Brady recently jumping off a cliff while on vacation with his family.
Tickets for the event had initially ranged in price from $20 to $100 but some were on sale for up to $500 on Craig’s List in the hours before as interest in Brady’s speech intensified.
The four-time Super Bowl champion has been lambasted in the public arena after he denied the allegations in January, insisting that following initial inspection before an NFL game, he doesn’t “want anyone touching those balls after that. I don’t want anyone rubbing them,” he said. “To me, those balls are perfect.”
Investigator Tom Wells said in the controversial report released Wednesday that two Patriots officials, Jim McNally and John Jastremski, “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls.” The report also stated that Brady likely knew of the plan.
“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls,” the report reads.
On Thursday morning, Brady’s agent Don Yee called it “a sad day for the league” and dubbed Wells’ findings a “significant and terrible disappointment.”
“Its omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later,” he continued, before making his most damning accusation: “It may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) May 7, 2015
— Anna Wistran Wolfe (@wistranwolfe) May 7, 2015