NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrived early to court Monday for a final face-to-face meeting before a judge rules on the “Deflategate” case.
The judge had ordered both to show up for the conference before he rules whether Brady must serve a four-game suspension imposed by the league for his role in a conspiracy to use underinflated footballs during a playoff game last season.
The NFL wants confirmation it handled the case appropriately while the NFL Players Association wants the suspension nullified.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has said he hopes to rule by Friday, giving Brady enough time to prepare in case he can start in his team’s season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 10.
Goodell and Brady arrived separately about an hour and a half before they were scheduled to appear before the judge.
Goodell upheld the suspension in July, finding that Brady conspired with two team ball handlers to deflate footballs before the Patriots easily beat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, in the AFC championship game in January. New England then won the Super Bowl.
Berman has continued to push for a settlement in the dispute, saying it would be “rational and logical,” but he also cited weaknesses in the way the NFL handled the controversy. The judge has also suggested that the league’s finding that Brady was generally aware that game balls were being deflated was too vague.
At a court hearing this month, Berman told the NFL there was precedent for judges to toss out penalties issued by arbitrators.