A few weeks back there was an announcement that the NFLCA (National Football League Coaches Association) had filed a legal brief saying to the court that they were on the players side. This was a very interesting and rather surprising development as the coaches up until this point were staying neutral. Here is an excerpt from an ESPN article on this development. Link here.
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.
"Preparation is a coach's currency, and coaches rely heavily on the offseason to prepare their players for the season," the NFLCA said. "If the NFL's lockout denies coaches the necessary time with players, coaches will be significantly more limited in their ability to prepare their teams and to prove their value as coaches."
The NFLCA said no amount of financial damages could compensate for the time lost this offseason, so they asked the 8th Circuit to uphold Judge Susan Richard Nelson's injunction of the lockout to allow the players and coaches to get back to work.
"Failure at an early stage of one's career, however, can falter career aspirations for many subsequent years," the filing said. "A lockout will significantly impinge on coaches' opportunities to prove themselves and will increase the likelihood that they will suffer failure they can neither avoid nor overcome."
I think the coaches really do have a good point about how the lockout is doing irreparable damage to their careers. New coaches like our Leslie Frazier are especially hurt by the lockout. Not being allowed a chance to hold the extra off season workouts which they get as new coaches really hurts their chances of having a successful season, making it harder for them to keep their jobs. So I found the coaches siding with the players made a lot of sense, given how they are being harmed by the lockout just as much, if not more than, the players.
In the ESPN article I quoted it also notes how the Redskins staff made a statement, and signed a document, saying that they were in support of the owners. Knowing Dan Snyder, I figured he probably just
blackmailed or coerced kindly asked his coaches for their support, so I thought nothing of it. However just recently, I saw on the Star Tribune that the Vikings staff had released a statement saying they were in support of the owners. After the initial reaction of No, Wait, What? Really! I decided to see what other teams were doing.
Apparently, many of the coaches in the NFL are recanting of their support for the players and claiming they had no idea that their association was going to announce such support. An article that appeared on espn.com yesterday lists the eleven teams whose coaches are all claiming that they are not in support of the action the NFLCA is doing. This article gives some interesting quotes from the coaches. link here.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Thursday he and his staff were unaware the brief was being filed.
"We were surprised by the filing and do not support it in any way," Reid said in the statement.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said the brief "came out of left field" for his staff.
"Nobody knew it was filed and nobody approved it being filed, so that's where it is," Ryan said in a statement released by the team Thursday.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the Cowboys staff sent a letter to the NFLCA signed by assistant John Garrett that the Dallas coaches didn't authorize the filing.
"We did not provide (NFLCA executive director) Larry Kennan with the authority to file such brief on our behalf and do not agree with the brief's position," Garrett wrote in the letter, according to the newspaper.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier says his coaching staff was never contacted by the association and will "always be supportive of our management."
I don't know about you guys, but this strikes me as a little weird. First, I know we shouldn't assume but I will assume anyways that the NFLCA would have to get permission from at least some coaches to release the kind of statement that they did. I would honestly be very surprised if the head of an organization like that would act without the permission of his clients. If the coaches are telling the truth that they had no knowledge of what their organization was doing then I would not be surprised if the NFLCA had new leadership in the near future.
However, I really doubt the head of the NFLCA would do something which probably could get himself fired. This means that the coaches most likely knew about what their organization was doing. So why the sudden change in heart? I see three possible explanations for what is going on.
- The coaches had no idea what was going on. It is possible that Kennan, the head of the NFLCA, decided that it was in his clients best interests to side with the players in trying to end the lockout. As I mentioned earlier, the coaches are being harmed a lot by the lockout so this course of action is not all that surprising. The weird part is that he would do this without the consent of the coaches. If this is the case I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches hired someone else to lead their organization.
- The coaches are split on which side to support. I think this is most likely what is happening. What happened is that the NFLCA probably got support from some, but not all of the coaches, to move forward with what it is doing. It makes sense that the coaches would have different opinions about the labor situation.
- Option three, the coaches want to support the players but the owners are pressuring them not to. Maybe its just the inner conspiracy theorist in me speaking right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if the owners were putting some kind of pressure on the coaches to not side with the players. It is possible that coaches are afraid to speak in favor of the players in fear that their job could then be in jeopardy.
The coaches really seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side it isn't a great idea to side against the owners and bite the hand the feeds (pays) them. On the other hand, they are really being harmed by the lockout and I'm sure they are opposed to it. The only position I'm sure the coaches have is that just like the rest of us, they want this lockout nightmare to end and football to begin.