Tom Brady won’t have to miss another practice, after all.
A day after Brady missed a Patriots walkthrough to appear at a settlement hearing in New York federal court over his lawsuit against the NFL, Judge Richard Berman ruled that none of the principals in the lawsuit — Brady, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith — need to appear at the next settlement hearing, scheduled for Wednesday.
Berman’s decision means Brady does not have to miss another day of training camp. The Patriots will be in West Virginia on Wednesday conducting a joint practice with the New Orleans Saints.
Berman initially requested that Brady, Goodell, and Smith attend both settlement hearings, but after spending approximately 90 minutes with them in the courtroom Wednesday, and six hours more in chambers, Berman seemingly has decided that the lawyers are more important to reaching a settlement than the principals.
Neither Brady, Goodell, nor Smith spoke at Wednesday’s hearing, other than to state their names to the court. And none were in attendance Thursday when attorneys from both sides continued private settlement discussions with Berman in his robing room.
Appearing Thursday for the NFL were attorneys Daniel Nash, Gregg Levy, Jeffrey Pash, and Adolpho Birch. The NFLPA was represented by Jeffrey Kessler, David Greenspan, and Tom DePaso, while Brady also provided his own attorney, Andrew Tulumello.
In addition to reconvening privately with both sides Thursday, Berman directed them to continue settlement discussions among themselves, or with magistrate judge James Francis.
The NFLPA is suing the NFL over the four-game suspension given to Brady by Goodell for Brady’s alleged role in having footballs deflated below allowable levels before the Patriots’ win in the AFC Championship game in January.
The parties have asked Berman to issue a ruling by Sept. 4, six days before the Patriots’ regular-season opener against the Steelers, but both sides have appeal options that could drag the lawsuit out for months or years.
Neither the NFL nor the NFLPA has shown inclination to meet in the middle, despite constant nudging from Berman to reach a settlement.
Goodell and the NFL refuse to back down from wanting Brady to admit guilt and accept at least a one-game suspension, while Brady refuses to accept guilt or take anything more than a fine.
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