Blog Entry

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 9:10 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the NFL Coaches Association became the newest party of interest to file an Amicus Brief with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

And, despite the stance of the people who cut their checks, the NFLCA cited numerous issues -- as well as's own Mike Freeman! -- that the lockout would cause for coaches before urging the court to "end the lockout."

"The burdens of little job security and frequent moves mean that a prolonged lockout would inflict significant economic harm and career risks on the coaches," the NFL Coaches Association attorneys wrote in the brief.

Additionally, the NFLCA cited an aspect of the coaching business (or, at least, the business of negotiating coaches' contracts) that hadn't really been made public up to this point.

Namely, that teams were planning ahead when it came to how they wanted to pay their respective coaching staffs.

"Anticipating a lockout, the NFL teams for the past several years have been demanding a provision in the coaches employment contracts (which are negotiated individually with each coach) that authorizes the employing team to withhold part of a coach's salary in the event that league operations were suspended," the Coaches Association attorneys wrote.

There's nothing ethically wrong with negotiating such clauses into contracts. And the resulting money saved isn't part of the players' pie, like the "war chest" fund that was created as a result of television contract negotiations.
Owners Meetings/Labor News

But it still kind of leaves a bad taste to think that the NFL had been planning ahead for this summer and doing so at the expense of the men who put the finished product on the field.

"The Coaches Association offices with the Players Association in Washington," the NFL said, per Albert Breer of the NFL Network. "So this comes as no surprise."

Those men, however, went unnamed in the NFLCA's suit. No individual coach, as was the case with Brady v. NFL, was a named plaintiff in the suit.

But there is a reference to numerous coaches who are being particularly damaged by the lockout as a result of their inability to work with their new teams.

"The lockout, if left in force, will prevent the coaches from meaningfully preparing and readying themselves for the season," the brief reads. "While all the coaches will be exposed to greater risk of failure, the eight teams with new coaching staffs are at particular risk."

In a citation for that portion of the brief, the NFLCA also points out that "there are also three additional coaches who have only spent one season with their teams (Mike Shanahan, Chan Gailey, and Pete Carroll)" who will be significantly affected by the lockout.

Jack Del Rio and Gary Kubiak are specifically mentioned as coaches who "reportedly received an ultimatum from their team's owner that their teams must make the playoffs to keep their jobs."

In short, the NFLCA believes that close to half of the coaches in the NFL are being put at a systematic disadvantage by the the court's decision to continue the lockout.

"The NFLCA therefore urges the Court to grant the petitioners equitable relief and end the NFL lockout," the NFLCA's lawyers wrote in their conclusion. "Granting equitable relief will also permit the NFL’s coaches to avoid the irreparable harm that comes with delaying the start of preseason preparations and will give the coaches a fair chance to preserve their employment and advance their careers."

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Since: Jan 3, 2008
Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:22 pm

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Who cares about this article, other than that picture of Belicheck's hottie wife (assuming that is his wife). Hell, if I was a coach and no season meant I got to spend more time with her, I'd say continue the lockout.

Since: May 25, 2011
Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:20 pm

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Shoudn't the owners look at the players of all professional sports as independent contractors.  After all the players either by themselves or through their agent negotiate for their salary.  Their union is not really a union, but an association or guild.  As such the players should have the responsibility of providing for their own health and welfare and also their retirement. They could negotiate, individually, with the owners so that their salary would include those provisions.  True unions negotiate salaries for specific jobs.  The jobs in Pro sports do not have the same salary for the same job.  This strike is about how much the plasyers association gets from the owners.  The owners truthfully do not owe them anything, the players do if they want to belong to the association.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: May 25, 2011 10:19 pm

NFL Coaches Association brief: 'End the lockout'

Great post Antz.  Thanks for the insight.  Makes a lot of sense too...

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: May 25, 2011 7:58 pm

NFL Coaches Association' brief: 'End the lockout'

The huge difference between the coaches and the players is that the coaches have guaranteed contracts.  The players do not which is why the coaches would be considered employees while players would be considered contract labor.  If the players had guaranteed contracts the NFL wouldn't be in this mess and the owners wouldn't have haved to shown just how poor they are at actual business management and leadership.  The coaches aren't really interested in any kind of leverage because they already have guaranteed contracts from the owners.

Since: Jan 2, 2011
Posted on: May 25, 2011 7:44 pm

NFL Coaches Association' brief: 'End the lockout'

Now you all know why these bad coaches still ahve gigs or Leslie frazier got one. Theyve been planning this for a long time

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: May 25, 2011 7:19 pm

The coaches are missing the point

Based on the description of the coaches' association assertions listed in this article, they have completely missed the point and the source of their dilemma.  They are complaining that the lockout interfering with their employment through an amicus brief in support of the players here.  Make no mistake, the NFLPA is not watching out for the coaches.  The owners have negotiated favorable terms to protect the owners in these labor interruptions.  The answer for the coaches is straightforward:  organize into a union of their own.  There is no other real way to see that their interests are fully represented through in the NFL and through the CBA.

If the coaches were to organize as a labor union/association, there seems little reason to think that they would not be able to gain a seat at the table in the Collective Bargaining agreement negotiation process. If I had a client who was a coach I would be advising him right now to be getting on the horn with his buddies across the league to talk about organizing into a union. This is especially true for those coaches who are currently seeing their pay reduced by teams in the course of the lockout.

Arguably, there are NFL coaches who add as much or more value to the game as some of the players. There are a couple of indications of this. First, follow the money. Pay for head coaches and many key coordinators exceeds many player salaries. The importance of coaching in the game of professional football itself is its own key indicator of the value of coaching. No where else in organized sports is game planning so important as we see it manifested in the NFL. Players must not only be coached up to enhance and maximize their skills and utility in the game, but coaching is responsible for identifying those strengths and unique skills among players to devise and implement plays and game plans for teams to achieve success in games. There is no doubt that there is significant value added by coaching in the NFL as we know it.

There is no reason to think that coaches could not organize as another NFL labor component. We see multiple components of labor represented throughout industry. Airline travel sees separate unions for pilots, ground crews, and I believe flight attendants. In the more closely related entertainment film industry we see unions for actors and screenwriters among others. Is there a union for "Key Grips?" Basically, it shouldn’t surprise us if another labor component wants to organize and negotiate for a piece of this cash prize which is the current NFL.

As a fan, is the prospect of a union for coaches good or bad?

First, if it is the wage cutbacks by ownership that provides the impetus for coaches to unionize, that would likely to fall under the category of "unintended consequences" I would think. Adding more parties to the labor negotiations will only serve to make them more complex and probably more difficult to resolve. These labor negotiations are already filled with complex forces at work because there are 32 owners trying to come to an agreement from an employers’ perspective and 1600 or so players with a diverse set of skills and corresponding range of value to the game. In that way I believe it would also tend to serve to reduce the bargaining power of all the parties in the CBA negotiations. I would expect a greater negative effect to the other labor components negotiating, though. In other words, I believe that most of the bargaining power gained by the coaches through unionizing would be at the expense of the NFLPA.

As an outsider, if I were to speculate I would predict the following likely outcomes from the Coaches unionizing:

+ The coaches would gain a seat at the table and a significant increase in bargaining power.

+ The NFLPA would lose some bargaining power at the CBA negotiation table. They would remain the most critical labor component, but a clear slice of the revenue pie would go to coaches creating pressure to reduce the portion of revenue to player, even if marginally so.

+ If the mere presence of the coaches at the bargaining table would make negotiations more complex, I would expect that it would tend to cause the NFLPA to move away from the courts and to the bargaining table sooner rather than later if for no other reason than to maintain and assert their position in negotiating a CBA. However, in my experience, a parties that are hell-bent on litigating will in fact litigate until they are satisfied or their alternatives (or maybe resources) are exhausted.

As a fan, I want to see football. I believe that the key to seeing NFL football sooner rather than later is the completion of a CBA. Litigation ultimately will not yield a solution that is good for anybody (which is a discussion to itself for another day). The appearance of another labor component, in this instance the coaches, in the CBA process may be the impetus to bring on serious discussions needed to resolve the CBA and put games on in the NFL. But then, maybe I am just being optimistic.

Since: Mar 10, 2007
Posted on: May 25, 2011 7:06 pm

NFL Coaches Association' brief: 'End the lockout'

Here's a relatively simple solution:  If the court decides the lockout can continue, it should put a deadline in place.  If that deadline is passed without a CBA, no coaches are allowed to be fired this next season.  I doubt that's legal, but then so many parts of this fiasco have been questionable, so legality hasn't stopped any of the rest of this.

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: May 25, 2011 4:50 pm

NFL Coaches Association' brief: 'End the lockout'

Most shocking for me was finding out there was such a thing as the "NFL Coaches Association".  What- do they normally meet to discuss which sweatshirt Bill Belichick is cutting the sleeves off of, or have contests to guess how many schoolchildren can fit into a pair of Andy Reid's pants?

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