In a move that is being said the league over (and inspiring some mutinous feelings) NFL owners are continuing to furlough and lay off team employees as the lockout continues. Now, we can add the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the list of organizations who will be attempting to save money by running with a skeleton crew, albeit just for a week in the Bucs’ case. Earlier the Buccaneers released this statement:
Due to the current NFL labor situation, the Buccaneers’ offices will be closed Memorial Day week. If the work stoppage continues into the fall, additional office closures during the week of Labor Day and in the winter have been conditionally added to the calendar. However, if the labor situation is resolved without the loss of any regular-season games, any lost wages will be fully reimbursed to Buccaneer employees.
Skipping the jokes about pirates and skeleton crews, let’s get down to what this really means. First of all, do not blame the Glazers for this move. When mega-rich owners like Dan Snyder were already doing this a month ago it becomes a bit more excusable for the cash-strapped Glazer brothers to take this tact as well. The team notified its employees in March that this could be an option so the employees weren’t blindsided by this either, and if league business resumes they will end up having been given a pretty nice deal (week-long paid vacation, though I’m not sure it will have felt like it).
What this means for the lockout though is a bit more profound, this kind of move is what is going to put the nail in the owners’ coffins. Yesterday a group of coaches filed a legal brief in support of lifting the lockout. Legally, the coaches do have a very good gripe in comparison with the other two sides, as to what should happen with the lockout. Coaches and team employees are rather unprotected in all of this. They’re being laid off, furloughed and forced to take pay-cuts league-wide as a result of this on-going squabble. And it’s not just an issue of legal positioning, the support of coaches and team employees is important as owners continue to pursue this lockout. As owners begin to lose support within their own organizations, they in turn may lose interest in continuing to engage in the ongoing labor battle.