New York: A federal judge urged New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and NFL chief Roger Goodell to reach a settlement over the `Deflate-gate` scandal on Wednesday, ordering the two sides to return to court on August 31 if no deal is reached.
Judge Richard Berman told lawyers for the two sides he was keen to see the feuding parties broker a deal over Brady`s four-game suspension.
"A settlement seems like a logical and rational option," Berman said.
Brady and the NFL players union are challenging his ban for involvement in a plot to manipulate the air pressure of balls used in the Patriots` AFC Championship rout of the Indianapolis Colts earlier this year.
Brady, who did not attend Wednesday`s hearing in Manhattan, has steadfastly denied wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the ban, which would force him to miss the first four games of the NFL season if applied.
A report by ESPN on Wednesday said Brady was mulling accepting a shorter suspension but only if it related to failing to cooperate with the NFL investigation, rather than the findings of the Deflate-gate probe itself.
The report said settlement discussions on overturning the four-game suspension had so far gone "nowhere."
Brady and NFL commissioner Goodell reportedly met for lengthy talks in New York on Tuesday about a possible settlement.