It’s become a given that Judge Richard M. Berman doesn’t have the option to impose anything less than a four-game suspension on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Technically, that’s accurate.
As a practical matter, Judge Berman can reduce the suspension to two games, explaining that he has decided to deem the four-game suspension as two for “general awareness” (or whatever) of the alleged deflation scheme and two for failure to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation. Sure, he’d be susceptible to a reversal on appeal.
But what if no one appeals?
Tom Brady, if suspended two games for failure to cooperate at a time when he’s reportedly willing to accept at least one game for that infraction and exonerated on the question of whether he should be suspended for the deflation-related activities, could be inclined to accept the two games and move on. Which means that the case would be over — unless the NFL appeals.
At that point, would the NFL appeal? More specifically, would the NFL allow itself to be responsible for prolonging a case that the fans want to see end, when the NFL can legitimately claim partial victory and retreat?
From a legal perspective, the NFL would have a strong argument on appeal, arguing that Judge Berman has no right to chop the suspension in half and that it’s an all-or-nothing decision. From a P.R. perspective, the NFL possibly would be criticized heavily for not accepting a middle ground and moving on.
So maybe, just maybe, Judge Berman will technically get it wrong, but ultimately get to the right solution.