NEW YORK (AFP) - A US federal judge grilled lawyers for Tom Brady and the National Football League in court on Wednesday as he seeks to settle the star quarterback's role in the "deflate-gate" scandal.
The celebrity quarterback, husband of Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, sat motionless in a crisp designer suit next to his lawyers during the 90-minute hearing in Manhattan.
Judge Richard Berman urged the NFL, its players union and Brady to reach a settlement as quickly as possible before drilling down to the finer points of the dispute.
Brady, star of the New England Patriots, received a four-game ban for "conduct detrimental to the conduct of professional football" after the NFL decided he was aware that the balls were deflated in the first half of the Super Bowl final in January.
The Patriots won the match against Indianapolis, earning Brady his fourth NFL title.
Brady has gone to court demanding his four-match ban, which was handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, be overturned.
He denies having anything to do with deflating the balls - which makes them easier to grip and throw - and denies being uncooperative with investigators.
It is unclear how quickly a resolution can be found. Berman impressed on both sides the need to resolve the case "expeditiously" but warned that civil cases of this type, including the appeals process, typically last around two years.
Before asking a series of tough questions, Berman said he had not made up his mind on the "varying strengths and weaknesses" of both sides.
"I have not made up my mind which side should prevail legally," he said.
Both parties were instructed to submit further documents by Friday and a second mediation hearing is set for August 19.