NEW YORK -- Last week, before the first public hearing in the Tom Brady-NFL federal court case, Judge Richard Berman cautioned those in attendance not to read too much into his questions and statements because his role was to serve as Devil's Advocate.
This week, there was no such disclaimer, and Berman then proceeded to poke holes in the NFL's case while openly stating his opinions on where the NFL's case has fallen short.
With the sides far from a settlement, Berman seemed to be ramping up on the pressure on the league to come off its position that Brady must accept the Wells Report and admit guilt to bring the sides closer to some kind of agreement before the start of the regular season.
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"There are enough strengths and weaknesses on both sides ... that would lead all the more to a settlement," Berman said. "That seems like the logical and rational outcome. It doesn't mean it's going to happen."
Brady and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were not in attendance on Wednesday after both participated in a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge James Francis on Tuesday. Both will be required to attend the next scheduled hearing on Aug. 31 if there's no settlement by then.
Berman vowed to make every effort to meet the scheduled deadline of Sept. 4 for a legal ruling; though he quipped the sides "can't hold me to it."