Patriots players deflected questions about the deflated footballs Friday, standing by their quarterback, shifting their focus to the Super Bowl, and setting their sights on a win.
“It’s a silver bullet. Anything like that just gets blown out of proportion,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The team hoped the deflated football story would run out of air.
“We worry about Super Bowl, focus on going out there and playing our best and I don’t think any of us are worried about that. We are a team, we’re trying to move forward and prepare for a big game,” said linebacker Akeem Ayers.
“I ain’t worried about no balls. Maybe Tom is worried about balls, but I ain’t. I’m not really worried about it one single bit. It doesn’t affect me in any single way and it doesn’t affect my preparation,” Gronkowski said.
The Patriots weren’t allowing the issue to be a distraction. They believed if everything was right inside the building, it would give them the best chance to win.
“Here we are at the biggest game of our career, and that’s what it is about, it’s about going in and being able to play a game you worked so hard for,” said defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. “We can’t let anything take our excitement away. We worked hard to get here. Everybody in that locker room is excited to play this game and we need to be. We should be. Not gonna take that away from us. You can’t take our joy away from us,” he said.
Wilfork spoke in a news conference Friday, the day after head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady said they had no knowledge of how footballs in the AFC Championship game were deflated.
“You have to be willing to just put everything else aside and just focus on this one game, because it means so much to us as a team,” said special teams captain Matthew Slater.
“I think this team understand we got a leader that we never question. There’s never any doubt, no matter what the situation is, whether it be on the field or off the field. This team has a lot of trust in Tom. Honestly, I don’t think anyone in this locker room is worried about it. We know next Sunday we’re going to get the best number 12 we’ve gotten all year,” said Devin McCourty.
The Patriots say they are ready to move on to the Super Bowl.