1:38pm: While Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) heard from a source this morning that Schefter’s report on Brady (detailed below) was “dead on,” some contradictory reports have surfaced since then. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald writes that Brady isn’t getting ready to accept a suspension, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says (via Twitter) that Brady’s stance hasn’t changed and that he isn’t willing to accept any suspension at this point.
Unless Schefter and Freeman were entirely off base, it’s possible that today’s hearing in New York played a part in Brady’s continued reluctance to agree to any form of suspension. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (Twitter links), Judge Berman was “very critical” of the NFL today, grilling the league’s lawyers and making observations on his own that boosted the credibility of the NFLPA’s arguments. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports (TwitLonger link) and Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk detail a few specific points made by Berman as he poked holes in the NFL’s arguments.
Per Schefter (via Twitter), Judge Berman continued to push today for a settlement, asking the two sides to return to court on August 31 if there’s still no agreement in place. It’s still not clear which way Berman would rule if the two sides can’t reach a compromise, but given the way he has grilled the NFL so far, it looks like there’s more pressure on the league to reach a settlement — especially since, as Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reports, team owners want resolution in the matter, and would accept a reduced suspension for Brady.
8:04am: Throughout the appeal process for Tom Brady‘s case, a settlement has been viewed as extremely unlikely, since the NFL is pushing for some form of suspension for Brady, while the Patriots quarterback has appeared unwilling to agree to more than a fine. A settlement still doesn’t appear imminent, with the two sides returning to court today, but there may be a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Facebook link), Brady is open to the idea of accepting a suspension, but only for failing to cooperate with the NFL’s investigation — not for admitting to anything in Ted Wells’ report’s findings. Of course, the suspension would have to be reduced from its current four games, in that scenario. Per Schefter, the NFL has been adamant that Brady admit to the report’s findings, which the Super Bowl MVP doesn’t seem willing to ever do.
A penalty that results in perhaps a one-game suspension and a fine for Brady has always seemed like the most logical compromise, if the two sides are going to reach an agreement. That would allow the NFL to uphold its suspension, while allowing Brady to significantly reduce the number of games he’d miss. We’ll see if Judge Richard M. Berman can cajole the two sides any closer to such an agreement today.
Mike Reiss of ESPN.com has a primer on what to expect from today’s hearing.