Mike Ditka (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)
The NFL players have gained an unexpected ally in their fight against team owners to end the 72-day-old lockout.
The NFL Coaches Association filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minneapolis on Wednesday backing the players who are fighting to end the lockout and resume business as usual, according to an Associated Press story. This, of course, is a preemptive strike by the coaches who realize a shortened season and more missed minicamps will mean coaches will lose their jobs when their teams are prepared this 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."
If there was a disappointing aspect to the filing Wednesday it’s that no individual coaches came forward. It was all lawyers. But it’s understood that every coach in his right mind supports ending the labor strife.
Right now players are getting together themselves to hold workouts. The lockout guidelines prohibit coaches from being involved, although you hear more and more stories of players informing the coaching staff of their activities.
"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.
It will be interesting to see how much weight the coaches' support lends during the appeals hearing on June 3. The owners are fighting to keep the lockout enforced until the players agree to taking a hefty cut in pay.
In the meantime, the coaches are also being affected by the lockout. Several teams, like the Arizona Cardinals, have cut the coaches' pay by as much as 35 percent during this period. Pensions have also been frozen as the two sides try to hammer out their differences through mediation.