The federal judge involved in the Tom Brady-NFL lawsuit over deflated footballs has all but warned the NFL that he can erase the four-game suspension given Brady if it fails to negotiate a deal in the "Deflategate" case.

Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan cited legal precedent for overturning the kind of penalty the NFL imposed on Brady during oral arguments by lawyers in the case. Berman cited at least three legal issues that could result in a ruling against the NFL, including that an arbitration must be fair.

The suspension was upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL') last month after he concluded Brady conspired with Patriots equipment employees to deflate footballs before New England crushed the Indianapolis Colts in January's AFC championship game.

Berman says he hopes to rule by Sept. 4, if there is no negotiated deal before then.

That's six days before the Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL's season-opening game.

Brady and Goodell were not in court and the judge says they will be required to attend an Aug. 31 hearing if no settlement is reached.