If they didn't already know, Tom Brady and Roger Goodell found out Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman isn't going to put up with any nonsense from either side during the Deflategate hearings.
The public portion of the first hearing in front of Berman ended after an hour and 20 minutes, with the judge now meeting privately with the NFL commissioner and the league's lawyers. He is scheduled to do the same with the New England Patriots quarterback and his attorneys later in the afternoon.
Berman repeatedly asked NFL lawyer Daniel L. Nash for direct evidence linking Brady to the underinflated balls used by the Patriots in the first half of the AFC championship game. Nash said there's "considerable evidence Mr. Brady clearly knew about this," but admitted there's no "smoking gun."
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The judge also pointed out that Brady had better stats after the balls were properly inflated in the second half of that game. "You might say [Brady] got no better advantage from the underinflation," he said.
But Brady's side didn't get off easy either. Berman asked Jeffrey L. Kessler, an attorney for the National Football League Players Assn., why two Patriots employees would take air out of the balls without Brady knowing about it. After making it clear that the union does not believe anyone deflated the footballs, Kessler answered the question by saying they might think it would help Brady.
Also, both sides also met separately with the judge in private earlier in the day, with Kevin Duffy of MassLive.com reporting that Brady appeared angry after his session with Berman.
In fact, Brady is said to have looked miserable throughout the proceeding.
Jim Armstrong of WBZ Boston tweeted: "I was struck by Brady's demeanor. he was stone-faced & stern entire time. There were moments when whole court room laughed; he never did."
Armstrong also tweeted: "Even as Brady's legal team chatted and joked when the judge was off the bench, he kept his head down, hands folded. Looking angry at times."
The league initiated the process two weeks ago by suing for a declaration that it acted properly in suspending Brady for four games for his role in the scandal. The NFL Players Assn. then countersued on Brady's behalf, asking the court to overturn the punishment.
Berman has asked both sides to work toward a settlement in the matter. He reiterated that stance on Wednesday, saying similar civil cases generally take about two years to resolve: "I think it's fair to say nobody here today wants to wait that long."