DeflateGate weariness has set in, both inside and outside the NFL. But there is no immediate end in sight as representatives of the league and the NFL Players Association prepare to appear in a New York federal court again Wednesday for the next leg of Tom Brady’s case, perhaps without the New England Patriots quarterback in attendance this time.
Brady missed the Patriots’ practice Tuesday and, according to a person familiar with the case, was in New York for settlement talks and potentially to make another court appearance Wednesday. But the league and union were no closer to a settlement and it appeared by late Tuesday afternoon that Brady was unlikely to be in court Wednesday, according to the person with knowledge of the case. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on Brady’s behalf.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Brady attended last Wednesday’s hearing in New York as ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. Brady and Goodell are not required to attend this Wednesday’s hearing before Berman. The league had not said as of Tuesday afternoon whether Goodell will attend.
Berman has urged the league and the union to reach a settlement of the NFLPA’s challenge of Brady’s four-game DeflateGate suspension, which was upheld on appeal by Goodell. But settlement deliberations between the NFL and the NFLPA have remained unproductive, just as they were prior to the case ending up in court.
It is not clear how much progress, if any, has been made since Berman became involved. Previously, Brady and his representatives seemed willing to accept a fine but not a suspension of any length, with such a fine being tied to a lack of cooperation with the NFL’s investigation rather than to involvement with any scheme to deflate footballs in the AFC title game. The league had appeared adamant that Brady accept a suspension and acknowledge wrongdoing in the deflation of footballs as part of any deal.
The case dominated the news throughout the NFL’s offseason and now continues to do so into training camp and the preseason. Many have had enough.
“I just want it to be over with one way or the other,” New York Giants co-owner John Mara said Monday in a radio interview with WFAN. “We’re all tired of hearing about it.”
But the case could drag on, barring a settlement. The league and union have asked Berman to rule by Sept. 4, the week before the Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s season-opening game Sept. 10.
The side that loses at the district court level likely would appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The union, if it loses before Berman, potentially could seek an injunction enabling Brady to play while his appeal is pending.
If the union prevails before Berman, the league likely would appeal and Brady would face the prospect of perhaps having to serve his suspension later in the season.
If Brady does not attend Wednesday’s hearing in New York, he could join the Patriots for a set of joint practices with the New Orleans Saints at the Saints’ training camp in West Virginia. The Saints again are holding their camp at The Greenbrier resort.
Brady made a brief appearance in the Patriots’ preseason opener last Thursday, the day after he was in court in New York, against the Green Bay Packers before giving way to his second-year backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, who would be in line to open the season as the team’s starter if Brady’s suspension is upheld.