Coaches better off staying neutral during labor dispute

Yet another NFL coaching staff has gone on record as wanting to distance itself from the NFL Coaches Association's recent court filing that supports the players' effort to lift the league's lockout.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia Eagles released a statement from coach Andy Reid that ended with a fairly powerful sentence: "We were surprised by the filing and do not support it in any way."

Similar comments have been made by other coaches and at least one general manager, the St. Louis Rams' Billy Devaney, as part of what has become a flood of renouncements of the NFLPA's attempt to have coaching staffs essentially take sides in a labor dispute.

The case was made in the NFLCA's filing that coaches are innocent victims of the lockout. Besides being forced to take pay reductions in some instances, the filing pointed out, they're also put at a disadvantage by not being able to work with players during the offseason. The time missed, according to the filing, is especially daunting to first-year head coaches and could very well result in more turnover in a profession that has seen a great deal of it in recent years.

As valid as those arguments might be, coaches realize there is much greater risk in allowing themselves to be put in the no-win position of getting tangled up in the dispute. Siding with the players obviously casts them in a bad light with their bosses, the owners. And projecting any sense of being in the owners' corner could very well have a negative impact on the men they're paid to guide. Ultimately, too many problems in those relationships could prove far more damaging than the effects of being unable to interact with them in the offseason.

The very best place for coaches to be is neutral. No one would blame them for feeling angry and frustrated, especially those who have lost money and/or are new head coaches.

But it seems reasonably clear the NFLCA miscalculated the level of that anger and frustration, wrongly assuming that it would lead coaches to a breaking point where they, too, were ready to take on the people who sign their checks.

Follow Vic Carucci on Twitter @viccarucci.

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