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Monday, June 6, 2011
NFL coaches caught in the labor crossfire

By Mike Sando

Those unsightly, overly tight shorts seen on football coaches over the years should have a new name: amicus briefs.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, coaches did not reject those violators of style as strongly as they have attacked a legal document purportedly filed on their behalf.

The NFL Coaches Association and its executive director, Larry Kennan, are taking shot after shot over the amicus brief they filed supporting the players' position against the lockout. The St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals have let it be known that their staffs, like a growing list of others, did not know about or support the filing. And as DiLune2 pointed out in the comments section of this item, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll tweeted that he didn't know of it, either.

The brief argues that the lockout inflicts "irreparable harm" on coaches, primarily assistants new to their teams, by preventing them from preparing for the upcoming season. The brief points to high turnover rates for coaches and claims that assistants are increasingly vulnerable to firing when their teams fail.

The NFLCA also filed an amicus brief against NFL owners in the landmark American Needle case, but the lockout has made this a far more sensitive time for coaches to speak up. My take and a few notes on the situation after speaking with Kennan, assistant coaches and team executives:
The fallout from this amicus brief filing will presumably diminish over time. Owners can have long memories, however, and if their emotions come into play on this issue, coaches could still pay. While it's true that a larger NFL revenue pie could benefit coaches, unbridled league power on the antitrust front could give teams more power to act unilaterally toward coaches -- for better or worse.