Before Wednesday’s hearing in the Tom Brady case, Brady reportedly was willing to accept a reduced suspension in order to put the issue behind him. After Wednesday’s hearing, which featured Judge Richard M. Berman aggressively pointing out the various flaw in the NFL’s position, Brady reportedly became less willing to accept a suspension of any duration.
Multiple reports emerging after the hearing indicated that Brady is not willing to accept any suspension.
But Adam Schefter’s report from Wednesday morning was accurate; as of Tuesday, when Brady took the day off to meet with the NFL, Brady was indeed willing to accept a short suspension (likely only one game) in order to end the case once and for all. But with the NFL unwilling to discuss a reduced suspension until Brady and the NFL Players Association accept a laundry list of terms regarding the findings of the Ted Wells report and the authority of the NFL to suspend players for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game and/or obstructing league investigations, the process never got to the point of Brady offering to accept a suspension.
Now that Judge Berman seems to be leaning toward finding that the suspension should be vacated, Brady can dig in — at least until the NFL budges on the issue of demanding various concessions regarding Wells’ conclusions and the league’s powers. Even then, Brady and the NFLPA could become sufficiently emboldened to refuse to settle, holding out for a victory in court.
At some point, then, Judge Berman may have to unleash a barrage of tough questions against NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, in the hopes of softening up Brady’s position. But that would happen only after the NFL softens its stance.
Still, there’s a chance the NFL (or Brady) will ultimately choose to roll the dice on a ruling from Judge Berman, and then take their chances in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
This would only prolong the process, well into 2016. The one way to end the case in the near future would be to settle it, and Wednesday’s efforts to make the NFL more reasonable about settlement could make Brady less willing to strike a deal.