NFLPA executive director of external affairs George Atallah said the Deflategate case is far from over. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)
NFLPA executive director of external affairs George Atallah checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Tuesday to discuss the latest with Tom Brady and Deflategate, specifically what is next. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.
Brady’s four-game suspension was reinstated Monday and it seems likely Brady will fight it until the end. Atallah said although the NFLPA advises Brady on what to do, in the end it is Brady’s decision.
“It’s always Tom’s call,” Atallah said. “Our job as a union is to provide him with his best possible options and it’s always been Tom’s call as to how he wants to proceed with this. It has always been Tom’s call to how far he wants to take this. We stand by him and we’ve stood by him since the first second this crazy thing came down. We’ll see what he wants to do. I think we will use every bit of the 14 days to make the best and smartest decision to how we want to proceed. Tom is going to take a look at those options as well and we’ll make a decision together and move forward.
“Look, Boston fans, I don’t think this thing is over. I really don’t. We have a long way to go to fight this. Worst case scenario is we’ve exposed a really, really screwed up process for the most popular game in the world.”
Atallah said Monday’s ruling wasn’t a complete loss for Brady and the NFLPA.
“I wouldn’t call it a beating, per se,” he said. “I think if you read the dissent and Judge Berman’s decision, we clearly made some relevant arguments that were accepted by the court. We wouldn’t be here if the NFLPA didn’t have the strength to fight such a ridiculous suspension. Frankly, the people in Boston know just like many other football fans in America know that the evidence that the league relied on was circumstantial at best.
“It’s tough to stand here and say that we are pleased with the decision — obviously, we are not. We would have liked a different outcome, but I don’t think anyone can question the union’s resolve to fight for Tom’s rights, to fight for his innocence and frankly, despite the outcome we still exposed a tremendous amount of, let’s call it absurdity from the way the league office operates.”
Atallah was asked if Brady was upset by what came down Monday and while he wouldn’t answer directly, his answer made it clear the Patriots quarterback wasn’t too pleased.
“I think you guys have known Tom long enough and he has been a regular on the station to kind of know how he feels about this whole thing,” Atallah said. “I am going to keep our conversations with him at the moment between us until we decide he is ready to say something and we have a decision on how to move forward. I think while none of us are thrilled with the outcome, I think we can hold our heads up high and recognize we did fight pretty remarkably long here — longer than anyone expected us too. Who knows, the fight may go on.”
As for a potential settlement between Brady and the NFL, Atallah acknowledged there have been negotiations in the past, but nothing that was in Brady’s interest. He also didn’t rule it out this time around, but it comes down to the NFL and what they are willing to offer.
“It was reported that Judge Berman tried to get us there before we even got to this decision yesterday,” Atallah said. “If they wanted to provide and offer Tom a reasonable settlement, I believe that would have already happened. There is a lot of time between now and the start of the season and there’s still an opportunity or possibility simply by a function of time for somebody to step up and make some sort of rational decision here so that we don’t head into the season with a player of Tom Brady’s caliber sitting out for the first four games, especially when you consider this is now the third NFL season. This whole thing started in the playoffs in ’14, right? I don’t understand why it’s in the games best interest to keep a player out over some evidence that doesn’t make sense.”