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Bills coaches disavow court brief

The Buffalo Bills’ coaches joined a bunch of other coaching staffs today in distancing themselves from a motion filed by the National Football League Coaches Association to support the players in the current labor dispute.

The coaches group is a non-unionized trade association that helps coaches with information on salaries, health insurance, pensions, worker’s compensation and other employment matters. The association last week filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the players' cause as the league appeals an injunction granted to lift the lockout. An amicus brief gives a court a third-party perspective that might be useful in deciding a particular case.

However, Bills offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins provided the following unsolicited statement on the matter: “Our entire staff had no prior knowledge, nor were we consulted that the amicus brief was being filed on behalf of the coaches. We support Mr. (Ralph) Wilson. Our focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season.”

Coaches from the Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs released similar statements in recent days.

The NFL lockout is in its third month. The coaches association brief states: "Coaches who cannot produce immediate results suffer irreparable harm. They must uproot their families to seek employment elsewhere, and they have difficulty overcoming the perception of failure.”

It further states: “The lockout, if left in force, will prevent the coaches from meaningfully preparing and readying themselves for the season. While all coaches will be exposed to greater risk of failure, the eight teams with new coaching staffs are at particular risk. Since unforgiving expectations for immediate results will persist regardless of any lack of opportunity to prepare, these eight coaching staffs are losing irreplaceable time to prepare for a job that demands success.”

NFL coaches find themselves in a conflicted situation. Their jobs depend on the good will of their owner. Yet their job requires them to gain the cooperation of the players. In addition, the lockout is threatening their paychecks. Like all Bills employees, the salaries of the coaches are being reduced up to 25 percent during the lockout. However, the Bills’ coaches have it in their contracts that they would get withheld salary back if no games are lost.

The Eighth Circuit Court will hear arguments in the lockout case on Friday.

---Mark Gaughan

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