Roger Goodell is expected to hand down a decision on Tom Brady’s Ballghazi appeal any day now. (Whichever day it comes, it will almost certainly be announced at 5:30 p.m.) Here’s a Pro Football Talk report that claims Brady’s camp and the NFL have held talks on a potential settlement that would take the decision out of the arbitrator’s Goodell’s hands.

This isn’t unusual. Even if almost all recent appeals have gone to decisions, it’s rare for one side or the other not to raise the idea of agreeing to a reduced punishment. PFT says that in this case, “no progress has been made toward a deal.” (“Hey Tom, you want to just take two games?” “Nah.”)

But the really interesting part of this report is the claim that Goodell is being urged to stand tough on his initial discipline:

Per the [league] source, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is being pushed by a small handful of influential owners to hold firm on the four-game suspension. Working against that pressure, however, is the fear that the four-game suspension would be wiped out by a federal court.

Well now. We had always assumed that coming down so hard on Brady was a matter of personal pride for Goodell—a chance to flex his muscle over even the most innocuous of rule violations, and an attempt to prove he doesn’t favor the NFL’s biggest star or an owner he’s particularly chummy with. But this report would indicate that Goodell is feeling some pressure from his bosses.

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It’s an open question whether these owners are arguing on behalf of the NFL, and actually care about deflated footballs, or whether they’d just like to see the Patriots lose their best player for a quarter of the season.

If you weren’t aware of Goodell’s history, or his personality, or his paycheck, you might almost feel sorry for him here. He’s got good reason to rule either way on Brady, and people are going to be mad at him no matter what he does. Reducing or eliminating Brady’s suspension would anger Goodell’s employers. Reducing or leaving it at four games would open the way for a legal battle that could end in Goodell’s authority being further undermined—and the NFLPA is prepared to go to court unless the suspension is completely vacated.

No matter what happens we’ll all have things to yell about for a while. Hope to hear from you soon, Roger!

[PFT]