NEW YORK — Even as negotiations aimed at settling the NFL's "Deflategate" scandal drag on, lawyers are seeking every legal advantage in a quest to win over a federal judge.
Repeating arguments they made at a hearing one week ago, lawyers for the league, the players' union and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are sending Judge Richard Berman letters reminding him of their legal positions over the controversy stemming from deflated footballs at January's AFC championship game, which New England won over the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7.
In July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld a four-game suspension of Brady after concluding he was part of a conspiracy by Patriots equipment employees to deflate balls to gain a competitive advantage.
In the latest filing, NFL Players Association attorney Jeffrey Kessler said in a letter to the judge Tuesday that the dispute was just the kind of "extreme" case that gives Berman the right to vacate Goodell's decision to uphold the suspension.
Although Berman has criticized the NFL's position at two public hearings in the case, it's possible he has been leaning heavily on the league to improve the chances of a settlement.
Neither side wants to give up any advantage it thinks it might have with Berman. Lawyers have been repeating their legal positions in short letters to the Manhattan jurist.
On Monday, NFL attorney Daniel Nash filed a three-page letter with Berman saying that a list of 19 decisions by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan cited by the union to the judge show that courts vacate penalties such as Brady's suspension "only in extraordinary circumstances, none of which are present here."
Berman has urged a settlement of the case and has said Brady and Goodell must return to court Monday if they don't have a deal.
Negotiations took place Monday with help from a federal magistrate judge.
If there is no deal by next week, Berman has said he expected to rule by Sept. 4, which would give Brady and the Patriots enough time to prepare for the season opener a week later.
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Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press