Representatives of the league and the players’ union were back in federal court in New York on Wednesday. But Brady did not attend. He was on the field here with the New England Patriots as they participated in a joint practice with the New Orleans Saints at the Saints’ training camp at The Greenbrier resort.
ESPN reported earlier Wednesday that Brady is willing to accept some form of suspension tied to a lack of cooperation with the NFL’s investigation, adding that the quarterback remains unwilling to agree to accept the conclusions of NFL investigator Ted Wells’s report.
But the three people with knowledge of the deliberations of Brady’s legal representatives said the union and Brady are not willing at this point to accept a suspension.
“There is no inclination to accept that,” one of those people said.
According to one of those people, the settlement talks have been focused on which part of parts of the Wells report, if any, both the union and league can accept, rather than on potential compromises over a suspension or fine.
In earlier settlement deliberations, the union appeared willing to accept a fine tied to a lack of cooperation with the league’s investigation, but not a suspension. Brady and the union also appeared unwilling then to admit to any wrongdoing tied to the deflation of footballs. The league, in earlier settlement talks, seemed adamant that Brady be suspended and that he acknowledge wrongdoing in the under-inflation of footballs.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman has urged the league and union to settle the case before he makes a ruling.
It is not clear if the two sides will become more willing to compromise as Berman moves closer to a decision. Berman has ordered Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to return to court Aug. 31 if there is no settlement before then. 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.
Some within the sport have expressed the view that a settlement, potentially including a shortened suspension, is possible as the season draws closer. Brady’s second-year backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, would be in the line to open the season as the Patriots’ starter if Brady’s suspension remains intact. Goodell upheld a four-game suspension of Brady on appeal.
Brady missed the Patriots’ practice Tuesday and was in New York to participate in settlement talks. But people familiar with the case said the league and union made little to no progress toward a settlement.
If there is no settlement and Berman makes a ruling, whichever side loses likely would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.