John Mara joins 'Deflategate' settlement talks between Roger Goodell, Tom Brady

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Monday, August 31, 2015

NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were joined byGiantsco-owner John Mara before U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman on Monday morning as the two sides try to reach a settlement in the Deflategate case.

Mara, who chairs the NFL's executive committee that oversees labor matters, had been asked by Judge Berman to attend the meeting.

The judge had ordered Brady and Goodell to show up for a final conference before he rules on whether Brady must serve a four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during a playoff game last season.

The NFL wants Berman to agree it handled the case appropriately, while the NFL Players Association wants the suspension nullified.

There have been no further talks since the two sides engaged in failed settlement talks Aug. 24. That has led some involved to wonder whether Berman is prepared to make a ruling as early as Monday.

The league is "quite confident" about the strength of its case and the likelihood that it will prevail on the law if the judge does rule, sources tell ESPN. But there is some degree of concern about angering the judge by refusing to settle, and that concern keeps alive the possibility that the case could get settled before a ruling is issued.

Berman has said he hopes to rule by Friday. That would give Brady enough time to prepare for his team's season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 10.

ESPN's Dan Graziano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.