NFL Coaches Association files legal brief in support of players

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The NFL’s coaches have not yet attempted to form a union.  Though that day may eventually come, the trade association that represents the league coaches has taken its boldest action to date, filing a “friend of the court” brief in support of the players’ attempt to lift the lockout.

The brief, refreshingly limited to only 14 pages and largely devoid of jargon, mumbo-jumbo, and/or gobbledygook, characterizes the league’s legal strategy in defending against the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit as “attempting an end-run around” the 2010 American Needle decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which stands for the notion that the NFL represents not one business but 32, making it subject to the Sherman antitrust law.  More specifically, the coaches argue that the Norris-LaGuardia Act should not generally prevent court orders lifting lockouts, explaining that the league’s reasoning would apply to every possible labor dispute even if the employees contesting a group boycott (i.e., a lockout of a non-union workforce) had never been unionized.

Though the coaches have every reason to be concerned that they eventually will occupy the shoes of the players in an antitrust fight against the owners, the coaches may have overplayed their hand a bit by attempting to argue that they collectively will suffer irreparable harm if the lockout chews significantly into the ability of new coaches to be competitive in 2011.  The NFL, like every professional sports league, represents a zero-sum proposition, with a winner for every loser, and a good team for every bad one.  Thus, each year the coaches of the worst teams face the possibility of termination.

To the extent that the new coaches will be more likely to struggle in 2011 absent a full offseason, training camp, and preseason, that dynamic actually benefits the members of the NFLCA who are working for established coaching staffs.  In other words, the 2011 season (if there is one) will yield good teams and bad teams, exposing the coaches of the bad teams to replacement.  In that regard, 2011 will be no different than any other year, regardless of how long the lockout lasts.  If anything, the truncated preparation time could help give the coaches of the bad teams a persuasive excuse for avoiding the hot seat, potentially resulting in fewer firings than in a normal year.

Regardless, the brief represents a clear, concrete, overt action by the NFLCA against the NFL, which could be a precursor to further efforts aimed at protecting coaches against heavy-handed ownership actions, either via the formation of a union or the filing of antitrust lawsuits.  In the end, the fact that this brief could be a precursor to organized against by the coaches against the owners could be far more significant than anything said in the document itself.

47 responses to “NFL Coaches Association files legal brief in support of players

  1. The smart teams didn’t commit to paying these guys full pay.

    Imagine, a coach that assumed he was going to get paid, and now gets thrown under the bus by (gulp)lawyers.

    I wonder if there was a vote taken.

  2. Oh, swell. Another group heard from. When do the FANS get to speak? Oh, I forgot. They’re just the poor schleps who are paying for all this!

  3. They can all file anything they want at anytime and nothing will get done except the lawyers making a ton of money till they sit down and hash it out. This CBA will not come out of a courtroom.

  4. Now we know where the coaches stand. Being held hostage by their owners greed, slashing salaries, freezing pensions even though they have actually cut revenue this offseason. No free agent signings. No workout bonuses. No paying players for OTA’s. Still they cut the employees salaries, I understand the anger of the owner plants that are on here. Most of the public opinion polls shows the public behind the players (except here) most national sportwriters are behind the players (except here). Now they have the coaches. LoL…Players will win this fight. They have a plan and purpose.

  5. The coaches should have a voice, so should the fans. But this lockout hurts everyone. Fans, players, coaches, owners, the guy who brings you that $8.00 beer,etc.etc. What we can do as fans. Boycrott! Stop watching! Don’t pay for those season tickets. Cause right now, I’m okay with not paying my $3500.00 season tickets for this season.

    If the lockout is not over by the first of July. I will never watch football again. That’s the only way we as fans can proof , we do have a say.

  6. Its always a wise move to file a legal brief against your employer. Especially if you are a new employee! It builds a foundation of trust and job security.

  7. oldbrowndawg says:
    May 25, 2011 11:41 PM
    Oh, swell. Another group heard from. When do the FANS get to speak? Oh, I forgot. They’re just the poor schleps who are paying for all this!

    If the workers at the grocery store where you bought you bought your food were involved in a labor dispute with the owners of the store, would you expect them to ask you for your input?

    Why not? You’re the one paying for everything, right?

    Fans are consumers of the NFL product. No more, no less. No different than any other consumer spending their money on any other product.

    Just because you drive a Ford, it doesn’t give you the right to tell Ford how to run their company.

    The players and owners will settle this dispute, whenever they choose, without your input, and you will continue to consume the product, because you can’t help yourself.

  8. Someone please explain to me exactly why the coaches believe that they need a union.

  9. Just to be very clear, the NFLCA is an organization comprised of SOME–not ALL–NFL coaches and that association does NOT speak for all coaches. You should be careful using general terms when referencing coaches in this and any other legal matter as coaches, like fans, have differing opinions on the subject of the lockout.

  10. Does anyone remember how Tecmo Super Bowl was the standard in the mid-90’s? For whatever reason TECMO delayed bringing a sequel with Super Tecmo and by that time we had already moved on to Madden. I realize it is not a perfect analogy because they were both NFL football, but in this day and age with so many things begging for our attention (many more options than back then) could we have our attention permanently locked into a new and better option for our free time? I don’t know. But if I was an owner or a player I would be very worried about that if the season gets disrupted for a long stretch…..

  11. Ok I take that back get the coaches on board with the players and start planning preseason games. Does the NFL own the rights to the AFL name? I’m sure there are plenty of unemployed fomer coaches with ties to current coaches. Get on the phone with your buddies and start organizing player-coach owned teams then you can see if you can run a franchise with 59% going to the players. Fans just want to watch quality football so get moving NFLPA* and NFLCA change your names to AFLPA and AFLCA start organizing workouts and planning preseason games. I’m sure the networks witll negotiate contracts with you and even front you money considering they had no issue giving the NFL pay for no play cash. Time to do something to get this ball moving since neither party can sit down and act like adults. Pick up your balls and take real drastic measures at least the fans will have something to watch if the league can use replacement players during a strike use replacement teams during the lockout. Maybe a mile walk, hundred yard dashrun or endzone celebration in each others shoes might do some good.

  12. The Coach’s Association, the only honest individuals in this affair filed a legal “brief” as requested. Which will undoubtably be lost alongside the summer blockbusters in the legal files.

  13. Who cares about all of this legal posturing and mumble jumbo?

    What I want to know is what good deeds did Dr. Jesus (Tebow), do today (beside the usual, like attending boy scout meetings, driving shut-ins to/from the grocery store and helping little old ladies cross the street at busy intersections)????

    Why hasn’t Dr. Jesus (Tebow), helping out the red cross in tornado ravaged Joplin, MO? Did he actually run out of bibles to pass out or something?

  14. What your not considering is that every coach even on good teams will most likely become a new coach once again. Job security for coaches in the NFL is fleeting. Only in the most stable of places do guys last 10 years with a team. Look what happened this year the longest tenure coach in the league got fired. He will become a new coach in the near future.

    So they didnt over play there hand they realized that 1 day every single coach will have to be the new guy in town once again and they are supporting the guys who are new this year and will get hurt the most by the lockout so in the future they too will be protected . Its the right and smart thing to do.

  15. I can think of some coaches who have caused more irreparable harm–to the the citizenry of the cities in which they have coached–than any irreparable harm those same coaches could ever suffer because of a lockout. But I won’t name any names: Mike Singletary.

  16. massappeal12345 says: May 25, 2011 11:38 PM

    The smart teams didn’t commit to paying these guys full pay.

    Imagine, a coach that assumed he was going to get paid, and now gets thrown under the bus by (gulp)lawyers.

    I wonder if there was a vote taken.
    No, they’ve been thrown under the bus by the owners. The lockout may have made the problem worse, but coaches have been getting the shaft for a while now. Yes, the head coaches and certain high-profile coordinators/assistants have been well taken care of, but the rest (the vast majority of coaches in the league) have seen their pensions and benefits slashed over the recent years…long before any threat of a lockout. All of this in return for the godawful hours that they have to put in, the repeated moving of them and their families, and the knowledge that a poor decision by the head coach or front office could lead to a poor season that leaves them unemployed. For those of you who say they chose this life, no kidding, but they should at least be treated well by the teams that put them through all this hardship.

  17. @oldbrowndawg

    Then stop paying for all this. That’s the only voice they will hear, cha-ching. The NFL doesn’t care about you, the NFLPA doesn’t care about you, you’re just a means to an end, a butt in a seat, a potential jersey sale, a hot dog and beer, you’re just a number.

    Without you this all comes crashing down but you’re so fragmented that you can’t effectively speak loud enough. Even now when you, me and all the other fans are disrespected by both sides, we still frequent sites like this to get what little tidbits they’ll throw to us, we’re sheep and they’re counting on it. We keep the machine running because we’re interested. We’re hooked and they know it and as such we’ll never effectively speak loud enough to be heard.

    Poor schleps, yep, everyone of us here to be sure and what’s worse, we’re signing up for it. We’re poor schleps of our own free will.

  18. Paying for this in that we will be denied football I agree. But I’ve decided if there is a season, I will not pay for anything NFL wise.
    No caps, shirts, jerseys, etc.
    That is one power we the fans still have.

  19. “Oh, swell. Another group heard from. When do the FANS get to speak? Oh, I forgot. They’re just the poor schleps who are paying for all this!”

    Quit crying like babies about this. You’re career isn’t affected by this, just some entertainment. No one is forcing you to spend money going to games and watching them on TV is free. Also, no matter what people say about their opinions toward the NFL changing during the lockout, they will forget all about it as soon as it’s over and come running back with their wallets open. There may very well be no season, the owners, it seems, are using the George W Bush playbook of being so afraid of looking bad publicly that they stick to a losing strategy rather than compromising and thus admitting defeat. It’s no coincidence that GW himself is a former team owner.

  20. “oldbrowndawg says:
    May 25, 2011 11:41 PM
    Oh, swell. Another group heard from. When do the FANS get to speak? Oh, I forgot. They’re just the poor schleps who are paying for all this!”

    oh come ON already. i’m sick of people whining like they’re being harmed in all this. you CHOOSE to pay money to the NFL. it’s optional. if you choose to invest your money in something that could potentially get locked out, then you understand and accept this and you’re putting money into it anyway. it’s MAY, we’re not even close to preseason let alone regular season.

    if you want to make your voice heard, stop giving them money. otherwise, stop complaining. money says more than words ever could to 32 billionaires, 32 millionaire coaches, and 1800 players who generally have at least 6 figure bank accounts/salaries.

  21. Yet another group of wealthy individuals with jobs we’d all love to have feel the need to unionize… It seems down the line the whole process has become perverted. What these idiots need to do is get out of the courts if they truly want football back.

  22. Another reason to support the owners. If the players win, I suppose we can look forward to a coaches’ strike in a couple years.

  23. @omniscient48

    They’re (supposedly) considering a union, because major decisions regarding their employment are being made, and they feel they deserve a seat at the table. The Wagner Act ensures them the right to do so.


    I’m with you. As fans, the only way we’re heard is through our wallets. I’ve already cancelled RedZone (Sunday Ticket isn’t available through my provider) and Sports Dish Package.

  24. I will not pay for anything NFL wise.
    No caps, shirts, jerseys, etc.
    That is one power we the fans still have.

    Fans should follow the latest trend in American business and outsource all their purchases to China, they make good stuff and it cuts out about $100 per shirt and at least the supplier is not bending you over the table and NOT using even a swipe of vaseline!!!

  25. and all the while people argue about the lockout roger goodell and the owners meet and forever change the game we all love. they just expanded the rules and have taken more hits out of the game all in the name of greed. they want a 18 game schedule and they dont care what anyone says there going to push for they have changed the game again can anyone ever remember a commissioner with so much desire to change the game the way this a__hole has ? the real money is in tv quit watching the nfl channel , dont buy season tickets. i dont understand how the owners were allowed to meet and work on the game when they locked everyone out . how is that possible ????

  26. How can the pro-owner shills still be supporting the owners when it is obvious how badly managed the league is. While that same league has locked out the players and brought the game to the edge of fan mutiny, they still have time to meeet to change the rules of the game so much that many fans now don’t even care if it is played under the new p*ssy rules. Does anyone else ask themselves who exactly is in charge of the league? Who are the stewards of the game who have locked out the players, fundamentally changed the game so negatively, and shown a complete disregard for the fans? Do fans think that the players – who are impacted by the injuries – would have ever voted to puss*fy the game? Maybe the problem here isn’t the owners or the players – its the league office.

  27. @stanklepoot—Spoken like a true Democrat. Roughly 95% of Americans—given that some 3.5% are millionaires—would consider the head/assistant coaches’ “hardship” to be relative affluence.

    I read the amicus brief in support of the National Football League Coaches Association. I question whether the arguments contained therein are sufficient to cause Circuit Judges Colloton and Benton to reach a different final determination re: whether the lower court had jurisdiction to enjoin the League’s lockout. While I think the balance of the equities does tilt in favor of the players, I’m not convinced—at this juncture, at least—that it’s sufficient to warrant a grant of injunctive relief. And finally, I think the “public interest” favors labor peace, even above the timely start of the 2011 NFL season. Only labor peace—memorialized by a new CBA—will ensure continuous play for years to come.

  28. If I were an owner of one of the 7 (I Think it was 7) teams that promised full pay to coaches, I’d really be re-thinking my position.
    Course if the coaches association are so concerned they may want to push the players to actually respond to one of the last 2 offers from the league!

  29. A CBA is a privalege not a right.

    The players are no longer a union. They gave up collective bargaining rights.

    Instead of making CBA proposals to a union that no longer exists, all the owners have to do is lift the lockout and implement whatever rules they choose so long as they do not violate labor and anti trust laws.

    The collective bargaining eggs have been scrambled.

  30. “the NFL represents not one business but 32”

    I’m still not sure on this one. No single team could stand on its own without at least some of the others. Could Jerry Jones run a successful business if none of the other teams exist? While they want each other to fail on the field, they NEED each other to succeed as a business. Sure, some could fail and you bring others in, but it is impossible for a team to exist as a single business. And without the stability that the united NFL brings any success would be much less…you can’t build a fan base if teams are constantly folding, moving, being created, etc. Just a thought, don’t know how this fits with laws and legal nonsense.

  31. HaHa!!!! Go coaches!!!!!!!! This is great, just great.

    So … if the coaches and players are in this together, can they talk to one another now? 🙂

  32. Wrong application of zero sum game. For several reason, first, there isn’t a cap on coaches, so the pie isn’t a set size. Second, the NFL isn’t the only option for coaches. They can be paid to work in broadcasting, college, or other football related endeavors. However, the ability to showcase their talents are limited when they are under contract and are also locked out of displaying those talents.

  33. when do the owners lawyers start the witch hunt so which coaches approved of this and take vengence on the poor coaches that are the ones stuck in the middle of this.

    We all suffer except the owners that made sure they would get paid (until the judge figured that out).

    The owners still think the players will cave in when the games are lost.

    I think the real endgame will come when the tv networks get pissed and force a settlement they are the ones paying the money and so they call the shots

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