NFL coaches are teaming up with the players in their legal fight to end the owner-imposed lockout.
The NFL Coaches Association filed a brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday expressing support for the players and saying that the lockout is putting their jobs in jeopardy.
"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.
No individual coaches were identified in the brief, which said that the eight new coaches hired this year face particularly daunting odds of success if the lockout is not lifted soon. The NFL grants new coaches two extra summer minicamps to get players familiar with the new staff, and the elimination of those camps puts them at a competitive disadvantage heading into the 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."
Some coaches across the league are facing a reduction in wages and benefits during the lockout, including those employed by the Buffalo Bills, who have suspended pension payments and cut wages for all employees while the lockout is in effect.
"These income reductions are occurring amid the burdens of mortgage payments, tuition, and other life costs that do not wait for the NFL to end its lockout," the filing said.
* The NFL is seeing the early signs of cracks in fan loyalty. Ten weeks into the owners' lockout of the players, Commissioner Roger Goodell noted the negative effect the labor dispute is having on pro football.
"Clearly it has had an impact on the fans," Goodell said as the owners completed their spring meetings. "We see it in various metrics. There's been a noticeable change, TV ratings were down on the draft roughly 4 million people. NFL.com traffic [is down], we see that."
The owners' meetings included lengthy talks about the labor dispute, but no deadlines have been set - yet - for the opening of training camps, which usually happens in late July. That drop-dead date "obviously is coming," Goodell said, barring a collective bargaining agreement.
"If it dragged on or there was a shorter camp, something like that might not be inconceivable," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. "The uncertainty is something we have to consider in getting players ready to play, and we have talked about different concepts."
One of those concepts would be expanding rosters to help teams keep rookies who might not have a chance to prove their value in training camp or the preseason.
* Former NFL kicker Matt Stover will retire after a stellar 20-year career in which he scored more than 2,000 points. He did not play last year.
* Colts offensive assistant Tom Moore has retired. He reportedly met with Tennessee officials about the offensive coordinator's job. The Jets also reportedly invited Moore to New York to discuss their red-zone offense.