Tom Brady could still play in the Patriots' first game of the season

Following another unsuccessful hearing between the NFL and Tom Brady’s lawyers yesterday, there’s no end in sight for Deflategate.

Judge Richard Berman can’t force the two sides to settle, and even though reports from the hearing seemed to suggest that he favoured Brady’s lawyer’s arguments, in the end nothing productive was accomplished. The next hearing is set for August 31st.

But as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted, if no decision or settlement is made by September 10th — the date of the Patriots’ opener versus the Steelers — Brady’s lawyers and the NFLPA will likely ask for an injunction that prevents Brady’s 4-game suspension from going into effect until after an official ruling is made on the case. In other words, the longer this drags on, the more likely it is that Brady will suit up and play against the Steelers despite the suspension and the entire Deflategate controversy.

Writes Florio,

“Absent a modified DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts, there’s no way to undo a suspension deemed improper after the fact. This means that Judge Berman likely would be inclined to issue an injunction that lets Brady play until he rules.

And if that ruling entails a second hearing conducted with a neutral arbitrator followed by further proceedings before Judge Berman to enforce or vacate the outcome, Brady could play most if not all of the season until the case ends.”

Because an injunction may result in even more time and money dedicated to Deflategate, and no immediate suspension for Brady, the NFL may be more inclined to reduce the suspension or cut some deal with Brady that suspends him only for noncompliance with the investigation, something reports say he would be willing to accept. However, an injunction doesn’t necessarily mean Brady won’t eventually have to sit out some games, and if the subsequent hearings and arbitrations drag on late into the season before any sort of final ruling, the Patriots and Brady may prefer he sits out during the start of the season rather than late in the regular season when the playoffs could be on the line.

In all, don’t expect Deflategate to go away any time soon.

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