NFL coaches side with players in dispute
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS – NFL coaches are teaming up with the players in their legal fight to end the owner-imposed lockout.
The NFL Coaches Association filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday expressing support for the players and saying that the lockout is putting their jobs in jeopardy.
“Owners and fans increasingly demand immediate success, and coaches whose teams cannot fulfill such severe expectations face likely dismissal, which means the uprooting of families, economic dislocation, and a significantly less promising career path,” lawyers for the NFLCA wrote.
No individual coaches were identified in the brief, which said that the eight new coaches hired this year face particularly daunting odds of success if the lockout is not lifted soon. The NFL grants new coaches two extra summer minicamps to get players familiar with the new staff, and the elimination of those camps puts them at a competitive disadvantage heading into the season.
“To meet management’s expectations, coaches need adequate time in the offseason to prepare their players for the season ahead,” the filing said. “The lockout has already interfered with the coaches’ offseason plans for their players, and each day lost in preparing for the season further diminishes coaches’ opportunities to prove themselves and advance their career.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league was not surprised by the filing.
“The Coaches Association offices with the Players Association in Washington,” Aiello wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “So this comes as no surprise.”
The 8th Circuit has set a June 3 hearing to hear arguments on whether the lockout is legal. A federal judge in St. Paul, Minn., initially ruled that the lockout was illegal, but the 8th Circuit put a stay on that ruling pending the appeal.
Some coaches across the league are facing a reduction in wages and benefits during the lockout, including those employed by the Buffalo Bills, who have suspended pension payments and cut wages for all employees while the lockout is in effect.
“These income reductions are occurring amid the burdens of mortgage payments, tuition, and other life costs that do not wait for the NFL to end its lockout,” the filing said.
Coaches have already lost several minicamps and the ability to institute their valued offseason workout programs, both of which get many players together starting in mid-May to prepare themselves physcially and mentally.
Coaches rely on those programs to get on the same page with their players,.