Fans react as Patriots activate Brady and ‘Deflategate’ comes to an end

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 1, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots activated Tom Brady from the NFL exempt list Saturday, bringing the 21-month “Deflategate” saga to an end.

Brady had been suspended four games for what the league found was an illegal scheme to use improperly inflated footballs in the January 2015 AFC championship game. The suspension ended at midnight Monday morning and Brady practiced with the team all week preparing to play at Cleveland on Sunday, but the Patriots had until 4 p.m. Saturday to add him to the 53-man roster.

Defensive lineman Rob Ninkovich, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, also was activated.

The Patriots also signed defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and released guard Jonathan Cooper.

Fans at the UConn game on Saturday reacted to Brady’s return, exclaiming excitement about the end of Deflategate.