Vikings coach disavows legal filing as NFL, players return to court
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BROOKYLN CENTER, Minn. -- Add the Minnesota Vikings' coaching staff to the growing list that has distanced itself from the NFL Coaches Association's support of players in the league's labor dispute.
Coach Leslie Frazier on Friday said his staff had no idea the NFLCA planned to file a brief supporting players' effort to lift the lockout with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
"We weren't contacted by the coaches association," Frazier said during a break at the Vikings' annual charity playground build.
"We're going to always be supportive of our management. We've got great management here in Minnesota. The Wilf family has been terrific for our employees."
Coaches with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins previously spoke out against the brief, which was filed on May 25.
Frazier's support of management makes sense on multiple levels. The Vikings are among the teams are among the teams that have yet to pay for coaches or team employees during a lockout that is approaching the three-month mark.
Asked what his reaction was when he learned of the coaches' association's brief, Frazier said, "Surprised. Just wondering how that came about and wondering why our team wasn't contacted. I wondered that and just how many teams were contacted. But just really, in a lot of ways, it doesn't pertain to us because we had no say in it as a staff."
The latest step in the appeals process took place on Friday, when attorneys for the NFL and players argued their cases to a three-judge panel at the appeals court in St. Louis. The panel took the arguments under advisement with one judge, Kermit Bye, saying only that a ruling would come in "due course" and suggesting the two sides figure things out.
The appeal centers on the lockout that began hours after months of labor talks fell apart March 11, the players' union dissolved and the fight ended up in federal court.
The NFL contends the union decertification was a sham meant to gain leverage in the talks and the conflict remains subject to labor law. The players argue that antitrust laws apply and the lockout put in place under labor law needs to be put on hold, as it was in April by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson in Minnesota.
Friday's hearing has been seen as pivotal in the dispute over how to share the NFL's $9 billion in annual revenue. The turnout included NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith and two dozen players, including Vikings end Brian Robison, who is one of the plaintiffs in the Brady v. NFL antitrust lawsuit.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.