Last week, the NFL Coaches Association caused a minor tremor in the ongoing labor negotiations by filing an Amicus Brief with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, essentially siding with the former players union in asking the Court to "end the lockout."
Since the filing of the brief, the coaching staffs for the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints have stated publicly that they did not support this latest action from the Association designed to protect their interests.
It would seem that NFL coaches have missed a golden opportunity here.
While you can see in the reaction from the Redskins and Saints' coaching staffs how much certain groups would really need to face the prospect with steely resolve, coaches throughout the NFL should be grabbing this moment in history and be forming their own union.
I can hear the groans already - fans sick and tired of reading endless labor headlines mutter "Just what this situation needs - another union."
Unions exist, or used to at any rate, in order to protect an exploited workforce. And if the last few weeks of pay cuts for coaches have taught us anything its that coaches can be easily just that - exploited.
Writing in the brief, lawyers for the Coaches Association said "Anticipating a lockout, the NFL teams for the past several years have been demanding a provision in the coaches employment contracts (which are negotiated individually with each coach) that authorizes the employing team to withhold part of a coach's salary in the event that league operations were suspended." This echoes exactly what went on with players before they formed a union to better protect themselves. Individually negotiated contracts, all of them easily manipulated by ownership.
If the coaches were to unionize they could swing a rather large hammer right smack dab in the middle of the current labor proceedings. The NFL is locking out its current players - would it do the same to its coaches if they formed a union? When the NFL and the former players union eventually cobble together a new CBA, a coaches union would have a powerful voice in how things like offseason schedules and in-season practice schedules get set up, how much or how little hitting would be allowed in those practices - not to mention how much and when disciplinary action could be meted out.
Yes, this would be a nightmare for the NFL - though the league could use the opportunity to play the coaches and the players off each other in negotiations.
The fact of the matter is, while players more than deserve the right to protect themselves in this labor fight, the NFL's coaches deserve to have a voice in what could be the formation of a new NFL landscape - whenever Courtroom Football (thanks, Andrew) ends and negotiations begin.
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