Brady, Goodell leave court after hearing, talks
NEW YORK — A federal judge has declared the public part of a hearing into the NFL’s “Deflategate” scandal over, but he met separately with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to continue settlement discussions in private.
The public part of the meeting lasted more than an hour after an initial round of private meetings with each side.
The courtroom was closed Wednesday afternoon as the sides met privately with U.S. District Judge Richard Berman at a Manhattan courthouse for more than four hours. Most of the day was taken up by private talks that started soon after the sides arrived. Brady and Goodell with their lawyers met separately with U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in his robing room before the hearing began, then again afterward.
Goodell walked out of a Manhattan courthouse about 10 minutes after Brady exited, with some spectators shouting “cheater, cheater” toward the Super Bowl MVP.
Brady and Goodell each smiled as they left separately.
About 100 people waited outside the courthouse, including journalists–some with lawn chairs–and onlookers just getting off work.
Police needed to use barricades to separate the entry to the courthouse from the crowds.
During the hearing, the judge asked the lead attorney on Brady’s side why two Patriots employees would deflate balls without Brady’s knowledge.
Jeffrey L. Kessler says the players’ union does not believe the balls were deflated, but, if they were, the employees believed it would help their quarterback.
Brady and Goodell didn’t speak during the hearing except to introduce themselves to Berman.
Berman said he thinks there are varying strengths to both sides in the argument over whether the NFL was justified in suspending Brady four games.
He said at the start of the hearing in federal court that he has not determined in his own mind who will prevail.
Goodell was booed when he arrived at court.
NFL lawyer Daniel Nash says the collective bargaining agreement with the players gives the NFL commissioner authority and the responsibility to protect the integrity of the game, including imposing suspensions.
Berman put the NFL on the defense at the hearing, demanding to know what evidence directly links Brady to deflating footballs and saying at one point he questions where the "gate" in "Deflategate" comes from.
He repeatedly asked Nash for direct evidence as he gave both sides a chance to state their case in the first court hearing in the case.
Berman noted that Brady's statistics were better in the second half of the Patriots 45-7 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts in the Jan. 18 AFC championship game than in the first half, when the balls were found to have been deflated.
The judge says: "You might say (Brady) got no better advantage from the under-inflation."