New England Patriots' Head Coach Bill Belichick defended his team and quarterback Tom Brady against accusations of cheating amid the so-called "Deflategate" controversy that erupted last weekend when underinflated footballs were used in a 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts.
The National Football League said earlier this week that it had found evidence of underinflated footballs being used in Sunday's AFC Championship game and that it would launch an inquiry.
Belichick said that he and others had done a thorough investigation of the underinflated footballs provided for play by the Patriots and even simulated the chain of custody they go through before reaching the field.
"At no time was there any intent to compromise the integrity of the game or gain an advantage," Belichick told reporters at a news conference at Gillette Stadium this afternoon in Foxborough, Mass.
The Patriots, he said, "followed rules to the letter."
He said that the pressure of the footballs was shown to go down about 1.5 PSI due to temperature changes between the "controlled climate" of the locker room and the field, where they "reached equilibrium."
"At no time were any of our footballs prepared at any area other than the locker room," he said.
Belichick also said that the it was "easy" for quarterbacks to tell differences in texture between two footballs, but "the pressure is much more difficult."
He said he was "embarrassed to talk about the amount of time I've put into this compared to what I should be doing."
Belichick said the team welcomes an NFL investigation and pronounced: "This is the end of this subject for me for a long time."