U.S. judge questions NFL's 'Deflategate' case against Brady
By Joseph Ax and Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday fired tough questions at a National Football League lawyer about whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension is supported by the evidence.
The hearing in New York before U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who is overseeing the players union's challenge to the suspension, was followed by several hours of private settlement discussions with the judge that included Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Neither Brady nor Goodell would comment on whether any progress had been made when they left the courthouse separately around 5:30 p.m. (2130 GMT), more than five hours after the open hearing ended.
A union representative declined to comment. The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in court, Berman pressed NFL lawyer Daniel Nash to cite direct evidence linking Brady to an alleged scheme to deflate footballs in a January playoff game.
Nash acknowledged that there was no "smoking gun" but said there was plenty of circumstantial evidence - including a series of texts between Brady and the Patriots employees accused of letting air out of the balls - that Brady was aware of the deflation.
Brady, 38, sat stone-faced throughout the proceeding, even when a few light remarks from Berman drew laughs from the rest of the courtroom.
Berman also met briefly with each side before the hearing to gauge whether a settlement could be reached before the Patriots' season begins on Sept. 10. Continued...