After the NFL decided to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate, the NFL Players Association took the NFL to court to try and have the decision overturned.
Last week, both sides met in court to try to come to a settlement, but there was no progress. ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio reported the NFL was asking for a “laundry list of concessions regarding the Wells report and the NFL’s authority to suspend Brady and other players for conduct detrimental to the league and obstructing a league investigation.”
On Tuesday, the two sides met again before heading to court for another settlement hearing on Wednesday. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, talks came to a “standstill.”
After months of investigations, hearings, and appeals (Deflategate has lasted for over half a year!), neither side wants to budge, naturally. The NFL clearly thinks Brady is guilty of some wrongdoing.
Similarly, Brady also has one big reason for not wanting to take a settlement. As mentioned by SI’s Peter King, if Brady were to agree to a settlement and accept a reduced punishment, it still suggests some amount of wrongdoing.
“Brady might also find ‘cutting a deal’ to be unpalatable,” King wrote. “If he accepts even a one-game suspension, it would be perceived as an admission of some wrongdoing — a sharp contrast to Brady’s categorical denials during his testimony. Brady might figure that for his legacy, he would be better off losing in court.”
It’s easy to see why settlement talks between both sides would come to a standstill. The NFL doesn’t want to let Brady off the hook, knowing that if they fold under pressure from the NFLPA, other players may be inspired to challenge their punishments, too. And Brady doesn’t want to relent in his personal defence and accept a punishment, thereby admitting that he deserves even a one-game suspension.
As King mentioned, Judge Berman, who is overseeing the case, can’t decide if Brady is guilty or not — only if the punishment is fair. He can help push along settlement talks and hint that one side should accept a settlement, but ultimately, his decision is to decide whether the punishment should stand.
Berman is expected to come to a decision by December 4, but that doesn’t mean the case will end. As Florio reports, if Berman’s decision is a clear win for one side, the losing side will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The rest of the NFL world obviously wants this case over with, but it seems unlikely that either side will want to bend. The decision will have to be made for them.
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