FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady just wants to move on.
Making his first public comments since the “Deflategate” court ruling, Brady said he is focused on preparing for Thursday’s game against Pittsburgh. He also recognized his family, friends and Patriots owner Bob Kraft for their support.
“Everything that’s happened over the past seven months, obviously I have a lot of personal feelings, but I really don’t care to share many of those,” Brady said Sunday.
“I really care to think about what I need to do going forward. We’ve got a lot of guys in this locker room who worked really hard to get to this point, and so have I, and I’m excited to be able to go out there and do it.”
Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game was overturned Thursday by a federal judge who criticized NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for going what he said was “far beyond” the investigative conclusions of attorney Ted Wells.
Later Sunday, on a conference call with out-of-town media, Brady claimed to have “a great amount of respect” for Goodell.
“I certainly have a great amount of respect for the commissioner and what his job is,” Brady said. “My job is to be the best quarterback I can be.”
Brady said the NFL’s decision to appeal the ruling is “their choice.”
“I think that’s just part of this process,” he said. “My part is to get ready to play football, and that’s what I’m really excited to do.”
It could take months for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case because the league would have to show it would suffer irreparable harm to speed up the timetable.
Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl win over Seattle on Feb. 1, but the “Deflategate” saga dominated headlines all the way into the start of this season. The star quarterback has insisted he played no role in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season’s AFC championship, a 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts.
Two Patriots employees – officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski – were suspended for their role in the deflated balls.
“I certainly feel terrible for them that they’re not able to be with us right now,” Brady said.
Asked if he had been in contact with either man, Brady declined to answer.
“Those are very personal things,” he said. “They’ve been obviously put through a lot, as my family has, and I think that’s a challenging part. I think right now for me I’ve got to think about what I need to do to help this team win, and that’s be the best quarterback I can be.”
The ruling means Brady will get to celebrate with the rest of the team when the Patriots raise their championship banner Thursday night. The Patriots have said they would have changed the ceremony if the Super Bowl MVP had been suspended.
“It hasn’t happened in a long time,” Brady said. “I think our guys are excited, but I think mostly we’ve got to focus on what our job is, and that’s to put that celebration behind us and move forward into a new year because it’s different challenges, different teams, different schedule. Any time you’re in a situation like we’re in, we know that we’re going to get everybody’s best.”