The National Football League (NFL) faced heat from a federal judge who questioned the league over the evidence connecting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to the deflation of footballs.
The NFL had imposed a four-game suspension on Brady.
According to WCVB, at the first hearing of the case, Judge Richard M. Berman asked NFL lawyer Daniel L. Nash, “What is the direct evidence that implicates Mr. Brady?”
No ‘Smoking Gun’
Nash responded to the question, saying there was “considerable evidence Mr. Brady clearly knew about this.” The evidence in this case pointed to text messages and phone calls between Brady and one of the two Patriots employees involved in the Deflategate scandal.
Nash further said there was no “smoking gun” which indicated that Brady was aware that the footballs were underinflated during the first half of the game between Patriots and Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game on January 18.
Patriots had won the contest 45-7.
Director of the Tulane Law Sports Program and NFL Media legal analyst Gabe Feldman said that Berman targeted several settlement pressure points during the hearing.
“I think that it was a big part of the purpose of this morning was for the judge to poke holes in both sides,” Feldman said.
“To say, I have some serious questions about both of your cases and I could rule against each of you based on the questions I have. So rather than risk losing it all, rather than risk a worst-case scenario, why not move a little bit in toward something of a settlement rather than face my decision.”
Brady’s Lack Of Cooperation In The Investigation
According to NFL.com, the subject of Brady’s lack of cooperation with the investigation was also debated on during the hearing. NFLPA lead counsel Jeffrey Kessler expressed that, while the quarterback could have conducted himself differently with the league-appointed lawyer Ted Wells (whose 243 page report was the basis of quarterback’s suspension), Brady acted on the advice of his agent Don Yee.
“I think the questions were clearly designed to create fear on both sides (they could lose the case),” Feldman said.
While Berman asked questions to the NFL for 45 minutes, he only questioned Brady’s side for 25 minutes. However, Feldman says that this should not be read too much into.
Berman said that if the two parties couldn’t reach a settlement by September 4, the case could go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
“These cases, generally, do not go to trial,” Berman said.
“The lifespan of cases in the Second Circuit can be two, sometimes three years.”
Court Artist Sketches Brady As Lurch
Meanwhile, court artist Jane Rosenberg has apologized to the quarterback for portraying him as Lurch, the manservant from The Addams family, in the court sketch.
According to The New York Times, Rosenberg said that she was “under a lot of pressure to work very quickly and do the best I can on the short deadline I’m on.”
“I’m getting bad criticism that I made him look like Lurch,” Rosenberg said.
“And obviously I apologize to Tom Brady for not making him as good-looking as he is.”
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