Judge Richard Berman told Tom Brady he didn't have to appear in court today after attending a settlement meeting in New York yesterday, and many media members questioned why. Some even falsely reported (on Twitter, of course) that there was a settlement today and it would be announced. Well, the question as to why Tom Brady didn't need to appear was answered, but unfortunately the Twitter rumors turned out to be false.
Brady didn't have to be there to because all he was going to do was sit and listen to the judge tear into NFL attorney Daniel Nash, a man who's statements just don't seem to be lining up with what the NFL was saying just months ago. Brady still had his words read in court (a long statement too) so although he wasn't there, his voice was still being heard. Judge Berman actually allowed the defense extended time to read the entire statement from Brady so it would all be on the record.
Judge Berman went after one thing in particular Wednesday- how did the NFL come to the decision to suspend for four games? Roger Goodell, through Daniel Nash, likened the suspension to that of a performance enhancer, like steroids. Judge Berman took issue with the answer, asking "how is it equal to steroid use? How did he pick steroid use?" The judge seemed perplexed as to how Goodell could possibly compare the two scenarios; just another blow to the crumbling case of the NFL.
Berman also didn't agree with questioning and assumptions regarding the weight of the balls Brady prefers. Berman simply asked why it would make him look guilty, especially when he sent a note to the refs asking that the balls be set at this level. These are the same questions any level-headed person was asking after reading these reports, but some would rather avoid the reading and be fooled by the NFL PR machine. Luckily for the fans that have a clue, Tom Brady isn't about to take a punishment for something he didn't do.
Earlier today, there were reports that Brady was open to some type of settlement and he would accept at least a one game suspension, but after Wednesday's proceedings, why would Brady even bother to give the NFL anything? They clearly tried to make a guilty verdict fit for the guy they wanted to take down, but they weren't counting on him saying "no way" and taking them to court. The best thing Brady and his team can do now is sit back and wait for the NFL to say no suspension, which isn't going to happen. It makes more sense to roll the dice with Judge Berman than it does with missing games for doing nothing wrong, even if the penalty is reduced.
The NFL keeps going back to the CBA as some type of magic wand that allows them to do whatever they want, but you if you ignore precedent and break your own rules, there is clearly legal justification for a judge to step in and say enough is enough. Roger Goodell has a horrible track record with suspensions and just his overall handling of these bigger issues, and the NFL has lost before, so there IS precedent for a pro-NFLPA decision, no matter how strong the NFL CBA may be.
Judge Berman also made it clear that he wants the two sides to continue to meet and try to work out an agreement, but the chances of that happening are slim. On August 31st, Goodell and Brady are set to meet with Judge Berman and a decision will be handed down on September 4th. If I was a betting man, I would put money on Brady being in uniform as the Patriots raise their fourth banner and take on AFC-rival Pittsburgh.
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