The NFL may have just lost some of its footing as news today leaked out about a group of NFL coaches and team employees who have filed a legal brief in favor of ending the lockout. The brief, filed with the 8th circuit court of appeals in Minneapolis, argues from a number of perspectives as to why a cessation to the lockout is necessary.
Everything from the competitive disadvantage the loss of minicamps and preparation time puts new coaching hires at, to the much stronger loss of wages and possibly even employment, the brief may serve as a massive blow to the owners’ side of the CBA squabble. The obvious point in the argument comes from the increasing number of furloughs, pay-cuts and terminations sweeping the league as the work stoppage continues.
But the more nuanced, and frankly intriguing argument stems from the idea that new coaches are disadvantaged as a result of the lockout and the cancelled OTA’s and minicamps. New coaches are permitted two extra minicamps to help players assimilate into the new systems. The argument that denying those dates and access to players puts coaches at a competitive disadvantage may not be the best tact to lead with.
“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.
“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… 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.”
To me, personally, this kind of argument isn’t all that strong in light of the precedents older coaches had to handle. In my opinion, the greatest coach of all time was Don Shula, he won the most games all-time, had the only undefeated NFL championship team in history and had two losing seasons in 33 years. When he broke into coaching you didn’t get extra dates with your players, new teams didn’t get all kinds of expansion gimmes and the first pick in each round of the draft. And when a coach started, the odds were stacked. I think coming from the angle that the lockout and subsequent furloughs and pay-cuts were hurting coaches and their families is a strong one. I’m not so sure the bit about competitive disadvantage works, especially when the NFL coaching predecessors had it just as tough (if not tougher).