BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo Bills coaches are standing behind their team in the NFL labor dispute despite having their salaries cut and pension-plan payments suspended.
Speaking for the entire Bills staff, offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins expressed support for team owner Ralph Wilson while distancing himself from the NFL Coaches Association's decision to side with players in their bid to have the lockout lifted.
In a two-sentence statement released by the team on Thursday, Modkins said Bills coaches was unaware of the coaches association's intention to file a brief to a federal appeals court last week supporting the players.
"Our entire staff had no prior knowledge, nor were we consulted that the Amicus brief was being filed on behalf of the coaches," Modkins said. "We support Mr. Wilson. Our focus is on our preparation for the 2011 season."
The Buffalo News first reported Modkins' comments on its website Thursday.
Modkins' statements are similar to ones issued by coaching staffs in Washington, Jacksonville and Philadelphia since the NFLCA submitted its brief to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering whether to allow the lockout to continue.
The NFLCA sided with the players in arguing the lockout should be lifted because it is putting its members' jobs in jeopardy.
No individual coaches were identified in the brief, which said that the eight new coaches hired this year face particularly daunting odds of success if the lockout is not lifted soon. The Bills staff enters its second season after being assembled by Chan Gailey last year.
All Bills employees, including coaches, have been affected by several cost-cutting measures instituted by the team since the lockout began in March.
The team has made across-the-board cuts in salaries ranging between 20 and 25 percent. The Bills have also suspended making contributions to employees' pension and 401K plans during the labor dispute, and potentially for the remainder of the year.