SBD/May 10, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 60: League Looks Into Contact Between Players, Assistant Coaches

The NFL said that it "is 'taking seriously' allegations that there's been contact between assistant coaches and players during the lockout and will launch an inquiry to determine if there has been any wrongdoing," according to Clark Judge of CBSSPORTS.com. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that so far there have been "unsubstantiated charges of contact between coaches and players, but that there are charges at all piques the NFL's interest." The league has "not found evidence of wrongdoing, but its investigation just began" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/9). CBSSPORTS.com's Mike Freeman noted he "spoke with a half-dozen players and handful of assistant coaches from both conferences" over a two-week period, and the "picture that emerges is one where coaches and players, despite rules against it, stay in almost weekly contact with one another using a variety of technologies." The two sides are "utilizing Skype, e-mail, text-messaging and good, old-fashioned phone calls to update coaches on the progress of group workouts, what players are doing to stay in shape and even personal issues." Several players estimated that 25% of the league's players "are in regular contact with assistant coaches." Freeman noted players "privately acknowledge that by engaging with coaches during the lockout they are in a way undermining their own trade association," but they "don't seem to care." Players also said that "while they see owners as the enemy, they don't view assistant coaches the same way" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/9).

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: NFL Network's Jason La Canfora said, “There are definitely people you talk to -- agents, players -- who will tell you ... that teams have reached out to agents about potential undrafted free agents, that there has been contact between some team officials, player development people or coaches. ... The key really will be how any of this is enforced after the fact. The league has said it will be vigilant in trying to document instances of this and then punish teams because of those actions. But once we do start playing, once we do get a CBA done and we move forward, some are wondering really how vigilant will they ultimately be?” ("NFL Total Access," NFL Network, 5/9). ESPN's Adam Schefter said to believe there is no contact between coaches and players during the lockout "would be naive and ignorant because teams are trying to do whatever they can to give themselves a competitive advantage." He added, "There are teams out there that I'm sure have what you call 'burn lines,' phones that can't be traced, numbers that they've gotten for this lockout to conduct business as usual" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 5/9).

COME FLY WITH ME: In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter noted the Falcons today "will open their unofficial minicamp" at an undisclosed site. The players "will hold their own seven-on-seven drills." The camp is "closed to the public" (AJC.com, 5/9). When asked how the workouts have been going in the "ad-hoc offseason program," Falcons DE Kroy Biermann said, "It's been good. We are starting to get some more guys in. When we first started there were three or four guys here in one session. Now, we have two sessions and they are filled up" (AJC.com, 5/10).
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