While most hope the fight between the NFL and the NFL Players Association regarding Tom Brady’s DeflateGate case will conclude prior to the season, it doesn’t appear likely. Attorneys for both the league and Brady requested a verdict from US district judge Richard Berman on Brady’s lawsuit by Sept. 4, according to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, but his decision probably won’t be the end of it.
Berman encouraged both sides to reach a settlement last week, saying, “The average life of a suit with appeal is two years, not two months. I think it’s fair to say that no one here wants to wait that long.”
Unfortunately, though, an appeal seems inevitable because neither side has shown a willingness to move from their respective stances. The league – which originally handed Brady a four-game suspension in May – wants the quarterback to sit at least one game, but Brady won’t accept anything more than a fine.
Should Berman’s decision end up in Brady’s favor, he’ll be permitted to play immediately. However, a subsequent appeal to the Second Court from the league might spell disaster for him in the future. If the Second Court rules in favor of the league, Brady could end up missing time later in the regular season or, worse, the playoffs. The chance of that happening is slim, though, as Volin notes that the appeals process moves slowly and likely wouldn’t be completed during the upcoming season.
If Berman sides with the league, on the other hand, Brady will ask Berman for a motion to stay the suspension pending appeal, per Volin. If that fails, Brady will opt for a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order from the Second Circuit. That would enable him to play until his appeal is heard.
Regardless of what ultimately happens, DeflateGate has owned headlines for months and could cast a pall over the upcoming season. Some owners across the league have grown weary of it, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote Sunday, and are hoping the two sides reach a settlement soon. Conversely, Florio reports that certain “hard-core, old-school owners” don’t want the league to budge because it would mean conceding power to the NFLPA. Bad blood between the owners and the union is a key reason DeflateGate will continue to be a dominant story.