As of today, the NFL and the owners had the pendulum of leverage swinging in their direction. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the league and did not lift the lockout. Most believe that will be the case on June 3rd when the court will make a permanent ruling. Earlier today, I reported that several players and an agent have had enough and want answers and a return to the negotiation table. A further swing of that pendulum towards the owners side. I also said that more “dominos” would fall.
The next one has fallen and it appears that some of that leverage that the owners had going their way, has shifted back towards the players a little bit. Surprisingly it comes from within their own rank and file. According to Adam Schefter, a contingent of head coaches and assistant coaches have filed a letter to the 8th Circuit supporting the demands of the players to have the lockout lifted.
While they don’t specifically say they are siding with the players in the labor mess, they obviously are fed up with having their pay cut. Upwards of 40% on some teams. It’s still not known what teams coaches are part of that group or how the owners will react when one of their currently paid staff is working against them.
The coaches have every right to express their discontent with the lockout especially considering that regardless of whether the lockout is lifted now or later, some of their jobs will still hang on the outcome of their teams 2011 season. Not having players available to practice and/or workout adds to any in-season failure. It’s only a matter of time before employees who are taking unwanted furloughs or pay cuts start sending letters themselves.
The league needs to sit down with the players reps and come to a mutual agreement to lift the lockout, begin free agency, and continue negotiations. Provided the players are willing to drop their litigation lawsuit and go back to the mediation that both sides need to get a deal done. It’s a good faith measure on the leagues part to repair damage done in the “trust” department, and a sign of good faith on the part of the players that leverage is no longer as important as working.
Also earlier today, the league announced the planned rule changes regarding penalties to teams who repeatedly violate the defenseless player contact rules. Not surprisingly, in the middle of a labor fight where the players are hanging a “league doesn’t care about our safety” sign on the door, that James Harrison and Lamar Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers both spoke out against the rule changes and called the decision makers idiots. Go figure.