It’s Tom Brady Day again in a Manhattan federal courthouse, and you should expect nothing. Don’t expect a settlement; talks between the NFL and Brady broke down yesterday. Don’t expect Brady himself; though the Patriots quarterback was in court last week, and took part in the mediation hearing before a magistrate yesterday, he was reportedly “very angry” with how it went down and returned to training camp. And definitely don’t expect either side to budge...yet.
Where we’re at now is roughly where we were even before Roger Goodell upheld Brady’s four-game suspension: the NFL is reportedly floating a settlement offer that could knock the suspension down to one or two games in exchange for Brady’s admission of guilt—and much more important in the long-run, in exchange for Brady’s and the NFLPA’s acceptance of the NFL’s authority to bring down punishment in cases that involve the unpublished honor code or obstruction of a league investigation. The NFL doesn’t so much care about punishing Tom Brady at this point as it does establishing the precedent that it has the right to punish him.
Brady, on the other hand, is insistent that he will not admit any role in the Patriots’ ball-deflation schemes. And when yesterday’s settlement meeting reached that sticking point, Brady reached the end of his patience.
Radio host Scott Zolak, citing sources in Brady’s camp, said,
Tom Brady is “very angry about what transpired today down in New York City,” and will never accept a settlement offer from the NFL that includes a suspension of even “a single game.”
“He’s not happy,” said Zolak. “The Wells Report is getting shoved down his throat and he doesn’t like it. And he’s not signing off on it. Ever.”
That’s contradicted somewhat by a report this morning from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which claims that Brady might accept a reduced suspension—which would represent progress from his earlier position—but not at the cost of admitting he knew of or had anything to do with deflating footballs. So far, this appears to be a non-starter.
Tom Brady is open to accepting some form of suspension, but only if it can be for failing to cooperate with the NFL rather than admitting to the Wells’ Report findings, per league sources. The NFL has been adamant that Brady admits to the report’s findings, something he doesn’t seem willing to ever do. With that in mind, settlement discussions have gone “nowhere”, according to sources, and the two sides are back in court today.
So where do we go from here? It’s entirely possible that both sides’ long-held positions are not so intractable, but are starting points for negotiations that simply haven’t gotten rolling yet. (Time is starting to run out, though. The sides have asked the judge to rule by Sept. 4.) If it makes it to a ruling, Brady will likely still take the field in Week 1 as the losing side appeals. If you are sick of hearing about Ballghazi, I’m very sorry: every indication is that you will be hearing about it for a long time to come.