Former MLB Special Counsel John Dowd believes the NFL’s decision to suspend New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games was “absurd,” while both sides appear to be holding their ground amid “Deflategate” settlement talks.
Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell arrived at a U.S. District Court in New York to continue discussions Wednesday over the Super Bowl MVP’s suspension. Judge Richard M. Berman repeated his request that both sides “engage in further good faith settlement efforts” before the case is put in the judge’s hands.
Berman, speaking during a court hearing Wednesday morning, said he sees “strengths and weaknesses to both sides” of the disagreement.
In an interview on FOX Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria,” Dowd said Judge Berman will likely make it clear to Brady, Goodell and the NFL Players Association how he views the case in an effort to encourage a settlement.
“They know, now, what the referee’s thinking,” said Dowd, whose investigation led to Pete Rose’s ban from baseball in 1989.
Dowd laid out a hypothetical scenario in which the judge, during his private meeting with Goodell, could signal that he would be willing to overrule the appeal. There is no precedent for suspending players over inflation levels, Dowd noted.
In that scenario, the NFL might be willing to sweeten its settlement offer.
But ESPN reported Wednesday that the NFL wants Brady to agree with the findings of the Wells Report. Multiple reports have said Brady’s position remains the same. The quarterback would accept a fine but no suspension or admission of guilt.
“I’m told that the parties have dug in, although I think the Players Association has an offer on the table,” Dowd said.
If a settlement is not reached, the NFL and Brady’s camp will file opposition briefs Friday before returning to court on Aug. 19. Judge Berman is expected to reach a verdict by Sept. 4.
The Wells Report, authored by attorney Ted Wells, concluded that Brady was “at least generally aware” that footballs used during the AFC Championship game were inflated below levels specified in the NFL rulebook.
Brady was suspended four games in May, and his appeal was denied on July 28. The NFL Players Association quickly filed a lawsuit on Brady’s behalf.
Dowd reiterated that Brady was “ambushed” by Goodell, adding, “he didn’t do anything wrong here.”
“You’re going to have Tom Brady missing for the first four games, which is absurd,” Dowd said. “They have no hard evidence.”