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Settlement seems unlikely, but seemed like a good day for Tom Brady

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Thoughts on today’s settlement hearing in U.S. District Court with the NFL and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:

Seemed like a good day for Brady. Judge Richard Berman cautioned those in attendance not to read anything into his questions, which is important context. In situations like these, it truly is difficult to tell which side had the upper hand. If forced to pick, it seemed like it was Brady, as Berman put the NFL on the defensive regarding direct evidence and the independence of the Wells report.

Still skeptical of a settlement. While some might say the developments could put the NFL in a position in which it is more motivated to reach a settlement, I’m skeptical. I believe many within the Patriots organization are as well. At this point, my feeling is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would be more willing to accept a loss in court -- where he could still declare to the majority of NFL owners supporting him that he took it as far as he could -- than any type of settlement in which Brady doesn’t assume any level of guilt (a nonstarter for the NFL). Berman is known for having the ability to garner settlements, so maybe he can work some magic along those lines, but I sense he has his work cut out for himself.

Kessler acknowledges Brady could have cooperated more. When Berman asked why Brady didn’t cooperate more with investigator Ted Wells by providing his text messages, attorney Jeffrey Kessler acknowledged the quarterback could have cooperated more. Kessler said Brady was acting on the advice of his attorney (Don Yee), as the NFL Players Association wasn't involved at that point. My first thought in hearing that is Kessler was strategically positioning things in the event of a potential settlement that included a penalty for noncooperation but not for assuming guilt with underinflated footballs.

Stats of note. On SportsCenter, ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio cited a statistic earlier in the day that caught my attention. Referring to an article in the New York Dispute Resolution Lawyer magazine, lawyers conducted a study in 2013 that reviewed arbitration cases over a six-year period (2006-12) in the Southern District Court of New York (where Brady and the NFL are being heard). Of the 68 cases over that time, only two were denied confirmation. In one respect that highlights the odds Brady is facing. At the same time, as Paolantonio pointed out, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is 0 for his past 4 (overruled by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the New Orleans Saints' Bountygate; a 10-game suspension for Greg Hardy cut down to four by arbitrator Harold Henderson; and federal judges overturning decisions on Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson).

How the settlement conference was covered. With no cellphones allowed inside the courtroom, it was fascinating how information was consumed as it unfolded on social media, with New York Daily News courts reporter Stephen Brown providing a play-by-play of the proceedings on his Twitter account. He picked up about 15,000-20,000 new Twitter followers within an hour, later explaining that he was allowed to do so through a closed-circuit feed in the press room.