Deflategate hearing over, no settlement reached

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady arrives at Federal court in New York, Monday, Aug. 31, 2015. Even as negotiations aimed at settling "Deflategate" drag on, lawyers are seeking every legal advantage in a quest to win over a federal judge. Repeating arguments they made at a hearing last week, lawyers are sending Judge Richard Berman letters reminding him of their legal positions. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP/WPRI) — Five minutes. That’s how long Monday morning’s Deflategate status hearing lasted in a New York City federal court.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were both in attendance for the hearing, which did not yield a settlement.

In court, Judge Richard Berman said he had overseen negotiations between Giants Owner John Mara – who was representing the NFL – and former player Jay Feeley – who was representing the players’ union – but the talks went nowhere.

“We did not reach a settlement. The parties tried quite hard I think,” said Berman. “In some cases [a settlement] doesn’t happen. This is one of those cases.”

Berman said he expected to rule in the next day or two and “certainly before Friday.”

The case centers on the legality of the NFL’s suspension of Brady after Goodell concluded that he had conspired with team ball handlers to deflate footballs at a championship game in January.

The league announced in May that it was suspending Brady for four games over allegations he conspired with two Patriots equipment employees to deflate footballs below what league rules allow, to give him a competitive edge in New England’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game. Goodell, who by contract with the players’ union can act as an arbitrator for labor disputes, upheld the suspension, touching off the legal battle.

Berman had 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.

The NFL Players Association has asked the judge to void the suspension. At a court hearing earlier this month, Berman told the NFL there was precedent for judges to toss out penalties issued by arbitrators.

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