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Judge goes after the NFL hard at Tom Brady suspension hearing

Judge goes after the NFL hard at Tom Brady suspension hearing
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman, left, who is presiding over the Tom Brady suspension appeal, outside the federal courthouse in New York on Aug. 12. (Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman continues to urge for a settlement in the Tom Brady suspension case.

But the NFL Players Assn., which is representing the New England Patriots quarterback, might not have much incentive to do so after the way Berman went after the NFL during oral arguments Wednesday in Manhattan.

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Should there be no settlement between the two sides, it will be up to Berman to determine whether Brady should remain suspended for the first four games of the seasons for his role in the Deflategate scandal.

While Berman again acknowledged "strengths and weaknesses on both sides," the judge used strong language when addressing NFL lawyer Daniel Nash, noting several weaknesses in the way the league has been handling its case against the star quarterback.

According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Berman "peppered" Nash on the breakdown of the four-game suspension. "Which of the four games was attributed to ball tampering and which to failure to cooperate?" Berman asked.

Nash answered: "The award doesn't specify and there's no requirement to break it down that way. Taking the record as a whole, [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] determined four games."

Berman also said he had a problem with Goodell's defending the penalty by saying it was comparable to those handed to players who use performance-enhancing drugs.

According to Tom E. Curran of Comcast Sportsnet, Berman "nodded vigorously" when NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler stated, "Player policies say you can't be punished for being 'generally aware.'"

Berman also said that "the 'general awareness' doesn't relate to the Jan. 18 game," referring to the AFC championship during which 11 of the 12 Patriots' balls were found to be underinflated.

And while questioning why NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash was not made available to NFLPA lawyers during the suspension's appeal, Berman pointed out that there was precendent for a penalty to be rejected on such grounds. Pash worked on the NFL's Deflategate investigation.

Neither Brady nor Goodell was present Wednesday. Both men will be required to attend an Aug. 31 hearing.

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