All viable parties in the Deflategate saga met in a New York Federal court this morning to meet with Judge Richard Berman and he dished out some wicked venom to both sides in their first "checkpoint" hearing.
After Berman met with Tom Brady and Roger Goodell personally in the 'robing room' for roughly a half-hour each, lawyers from both sides - Daniel Nash for the NFL and Jeffrey Kessler for Brady and the NFLPA - stood before Judge Berman and felt the brunt of his federal justice. Although Berman spoke to both sides and exposed the weak spots in their respective arguments, the NFL and Nash undoubtedly took the hardest of Berman's words, and it wasn't even close.
Before he began, Berman again stressed his desire to push the two parties towards a settlement, while adding that civil cases of this type usually last two years, quipping "I think it's safe to say nobody here wants to wait that long."
Starting with the NFL and Nash, Berman ripped the Wells Report to shreds with a series of statements calling into question the independence and legitimacy of the investigation:
Nash says Wells was retained "just to get the facts." Berman skeptical of Wells' dual role as investigator and attorney hired by NFL.— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
Berman grilling Nash on why some evidence used in Wells report wasn't shared with Brady team. Nash says it was privileged.— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
Berman: Turns out Mr. Brady did better with higher inflated balls than underinflated balls. You might say he got no competitive advantage— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
At this point, where Berman was grilling Nash on the lack of direct evidence linking Brady to a tampering scheme, Nash referred to the text messages Brady sent after the Title Game to John Jastremski:Berman: I’m trying to figure out what is the direct evidence that implicates Mr. Brady in that deflation…in that bathroom…on Jan. 18— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
One of Berman's closing comments directly calls into question the lack of evidence regarding a plot or calculated effort on the part of Brady, Jastremski and Jim McNally to tamper with game balls:Nash: But other evidence "clearly indicates Mr. Brady’s knowledge and encouragement of this activity." Such as texts after game— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
Berman then turned to Jeffrey Kesler and Brady and poked some holes in their arguments but it wasn't nearly the kind of beating he gave Nash and the NFL. Berman highlighted the fact that as it appears Jastremski and McNally deflated footballs, he wonders why they'd do such a thing without Brady's consent. On the matter of Brady destroying his cell phone and making it difficult for Ted Wells to acquire his text messages, Kessler said Brady wasn't comfortable handing over private material to Wells, while adding that in hindsight, Brady should have "conducted himself differently" with Wells.Berman: "What is the evidence of a scheme or conspiracy that covers the Jan. 15 game? I’m having trouble finding it."— Stephen Brown (@PPVSRB) August 12, 2015
Court was adjourned shortly there after. Brady and Roger Goodell are due back in New York for another meeting a week from today, although Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweeted more talks are expected to take place out of court. At this point, the NFL should probably act towards bending to Brady's demands because they certifiably got smacked around by Judge Berman today.