Wednesday’s hearing on the Tom Brady suspension in Manhattan doesn’t appear to have gone very well for the NFL.
During the oral argument period for lawyers from both the NFL and NFLPA, Judge Richard Berman focused on the portion of the Wells Report that found Brady was “generally aware” of tampering with footballs by members of the Patriots’ equipment staff.
Tom Curran of CSN New England reports that Berman “nodded vigorously” when NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said that “player policies say you can’t be punished for being ‘generally aware,'” and that the judge later said that “general awareness” does not “relate to the Jan. 18 [AFC Championship] game.”
Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal adds that Berman called it a “quantum leap” to go from Brady being “generally aware” of ball deflation to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s reference to a “scheme” in his ruling on Brady’s suspension appeal. Berman also took issue with the NFL not making general counsel Jeff Pash available to testify, saying that other cases have been “vacated” over similar issues, and with Goodell comparing the reasons for Brady’s suspension with those for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The questioning would seem to be working against the NFL if you’re forecasting how Berman would rule in the case, although he said that there were pros and cons on both sides while again pushing for a settlement.
“There are enough strengths and weaknesses on both sides,” Berman said, via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. “That would lead all the more to a settlement. That seems like the logical and rational outcome. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.”
NFL attorney Daniel Nash argued that the NFLPA was trying to re-argue the case with Berman as arbitrator, which may be true but may not work out well for the league if Berman continues to find holes in its initial rulings on Brady’s culpability.