The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to find a "final resolution" to Tom Brady's suspension before the 2015 NFL season begins, according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports. Lawyers for the two teams reportedly sent a letter to Judge Richard Berman, requesting the matter be expedited prior to New England's season opener on Sept. 10 or, more accurately, prior to Sept. 4, so the team would have adequate time to prepare for Week 1.
This is significant as it means that, at least for now, the NFLPA does not plan to file a motion for an injunction on the league's decision to uphold Brady's suspension. Such an injunction could have allowed the court to force the league to allow Brady to play at least until the matter had been settled in court, provided the court thought there was a reasonable chance things could be settled in Brady's favor eventually.
In other words, that kind of injunction would have left the door open for many delays to the conclusion of the case, allowing Brady to play against the NFL's will. The lawyer teams concluded that a "final resolution of this matter prior to the commencement of the 2015 NFL regular season would be in everyone's best interest," according to the report.
It's worth noting that there is no mention of binding arbitration, at least in the documents reported on by CBS Sports. This would technically leave the door open for one of the two sides to further pursue their cause even after a judgment is rendered. But given the cooperation with this news, that seems unlikely.
There won't need to be any discovery for the motions to be filed, as the arbitration record will be used, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. That speeds up things significantly. Interestingly, the NFLPA will file a motion to seal portions of the hearing from public record, according to another tweet from Rapoport.
The lawyers are proposing specific dates for either side filing their respective motions (Aug. 7 and Aug. 14), along with a potential future date scheduled for all oral arguments to be fleshed out so that there is enough time remaining to "enable a decision to be rendered by Sept. 4, when Mr. Brady's team must prepare for its first regular season game."
This seems to be an awful lot of cooperation for two sides that were warned on Thursday to "tone down their rhetoric," by the same judge addressed in the aforementioned letters.
Judge Berman offered a speedy reply to both the NFL and the NFLPA on Friday night, in which he once again took charge of the situation. Berman offered up his own timetable, and responded to multiple points, including the matter of sealing the proceedings. In the full order, which was posted by Raffi Melkonian, a Houston appellate lawyer who has been posting documents from the case, Berman said that he often has "considerable difficulty in approving any sealed documents," but that both sides are welcome to try and get them sealed.
He also made it clear that either side need only file a 15-page double spaced memo supporting their positions, by Aug. 7. He also scheduled a status/settlement conference for Wednesday, Aug. 12 which Goodell and Brady will have to attend. He then affirmed the requested date of Aug. 14 for any further written submissions should any be needed after the Aug. 12 hearing, and scheduled a status/settlement/oral argument conference for Aug. 19, to which Goodell and Brady will also be required to attend.
Finally, Berman requested that both sides engage in "comprehensive, good-faith settlement discussions prior to the conference on Aug. 12." This in itself would be hard to enforce, but Berman is taking a hard-line approach with everything else at this stage. It really is starting to look like things will be figured out before the regular season.