Brady welcomes judge ruling

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has welcomed the decision to overturn his four-game ban but also expressed regret about the 'deflategate' saga.

The four-time Super Bowl winner has been cleared to play in the Patriots' opening game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 11, live on Sky Sports.

Brady led New England to Super Bowl glory last season but the Patriots were subsequently accused of using under-inflated footballs to gain an advantage during the AFC Championship Game, in which they easily defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7.

The 38-year-old star launched an appeal after being hit with a four-game ban and although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension, District Judge Richard Berman ruled against him.

Brady has since released a statement on his Facebook page which read: "The regular season starts tomorrow morning and I can't wait to fully commit my energy and emotion to focus on the challenges of the 2015 NFL season.

"I want to thank my family, my friends, all of the fans, past and current players and my teammates for the support they have given me throughout this challenging experience.

"I also want to thank Judge Berman and his staff for their efforts to resolve this matter over the past five weeks. I am very grateful. My thanks also to the union's legal team who has fought so hard right along with me."

But the long-serving Patriots admitted that 'deflategate' had negatively affected the image of the NFL and apologised for any hurt that had been caused.

"While I am pleased to be eligible to play, I am sorry our league had to endure this. I don't think it has been good for our sport – to a large degree, we have all lost.

"I am also sorry to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt as I have tried to work to resolve this situation. I love the NFL. It is a privilege to be a member of the NFL community and I will always try to do my best in representing my team and the league in a way that would make all members of this community proud.

"I look forward to the competition on the playing field and I hope the attention of NFL fans can return to where it belongs – on the many great players and coaches who work so hard every week, and sacrifice so much, to make this game great.

"Most importantly, I look forward to representing the New England Patriots on Thursday night in our season opener. I hope to make all of our fans proud this year … and beyond!"

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