With neither the NFL nor the NFL Players Association showing any real inclination to resolve the litigation arising from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, a ruling from Judge Richard M. Berman seems more likely. And some think the ruling will mark the end of the #DeflateGate saga.
It won’t be.
Even if Judge Berman doesn’t opt for a lose-lose decision that sends the case back to a neutral arbitrator for a second hearing, a decision that gives one side a clear win and the other side a clear defeat means that the side that loses will immediately pursue an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
If the NFLPA wins, it undoubtedly means Brady will be permitted to play pending the resolution of the appeal. Then, if the NFLPA loses on appeal, Brady would sit out four games at some point in the future, possibly in 2016.
If the NFL wins before Judge Berman, things could get even more interesting. At that point, the NFLPA could try to get an injunction allowing Brady to play pending the resolution of the appeal. If Brady wins that motion, he’ll play until the appeal is resolved.
That’s another form of lose-lose ruling from Judge Berman that could help force a settlement. Brady loses the case, the NFL loses the ability to suspend him until the appeal is resolved months down the road, and the issue continues to linger.
Regardless of the specific decision made by Judge Berman, only one thing ends this mess: A settlement.