(Reuters) – New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick ended a quarterback controversy before one could even begin as he said on Wednesday that Tom Brady will be the team’s starter when he returns from a suspension.
Belichick said the Patriots are focused on getting backup Jimmy Garoppolo ready for the team’s Sept. 11 season opener but that Brady, banned four games as a result of the “Deflategate” scandal, will not lose his starting role.
“We have finally some definition with Tom’s situation, so our priority now then is to get Jimmy ready for the start of the season, for the Arizona game, so that’ll be obviously a comprehensive process,” Belichick told a news conference at Gillette Stadium.
“Tom will return as the starting quarterback when he comes back, but in the meantime we have to prioritize the first part of our schedule and that’ll be to get Jimmy ready to go.”
Brady was suspended after the NFL discovered underinflated footballs, which could make them easier to grip, were used by the Patriots in their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the January 2015 American Football Conference championship game.
The win propelled the Patriots to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Seattle Seahawks, giving Brady his fourth Super Bowl title.
The “Deflategate” saga finally came to close two weeks ago when Brady, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player, said he would end his legal battle against the NFL over their decision to suspend him.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine)