Wednesday’s hearing in the Tom Brady case is underway in Manhattan after Judge Richard Berman met with both the NFL and Brady’s team privately to discuss the possibility of a settlement.
Stephen Brown of the New York Daily News reported all of the major developments from the courthouse as they were happening on Wednesday, including that Berman will oversee another settlement meeting after the hearing involving both Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The sides may find their positions on that front altered by the tenor of the hearing, which began with Berman, who said there were strengths and weaknesses to arguments on both sides, questioning NFL attorney Daniel Nash.
Berman spent time questioning the “independent” Ted Wells investigation and, per Brown, continually pressed for “direct evidence” of Brady’s involvement in a scheme to deflate footballs.
“I don’t know what to make of that finding Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the activities of [Jim McNally and John Jastremski],” Berman said.
Nash conceded there is no direct evidence, but pointed to the destruction of his cellphone made it “clearly reasonable to infer” culpability in the deflation. Nash also argued that there “cannot be a dispute” that Brady was afforded all of his rights under the league’s collective bargaining agreement and that Goodell’s decision to rule on Brady’s appeal falls within the commissioner’s rights in the CBA.
Brady’s attorney Jeffrey Kessler followed Nash and Berman, who mused that Brady was unlikely to not know about under-inflated balls since he’s the one throwing them, asked about why two equipment men would tamper with footballs absent Brady’s instructions. Kessler answered that it “makes a certain logical sense” that McNally wanted to do something to help Brady. Brady’s failure to cooperate with the investigation was the next line of questioning.
Kessler said that Brady did not cooperate fully with the Wells investigation on the advice of agent Don Yee out of privacy concerns, citing emails about “personal issues about a pool cover” becoming public as the type of thing he wanted to avoid. Kessler did concede that Brady should have “conducted himself differently” with Wells, although he also added that Wells didn’t establish the “expectation of punishment” for failing to offer all cooperation that they asked for from Brady.
Kessler also called the entire issue the “most overblown” of his legal career. The hearing has adjourned and we should know fairly soon if there’s air left in it or if Wednesday’s questioning nudges things toward a conclusion.