There's a subclass of NFL workers more worried than the players about a potential 2011 work stoppage: the assistant coaches. That worry comes in various forms, like Vikings assistant
"Assistant coaches are really angry right now,'' said
Kennan and the assistants are angry because of the wildcat way teams are treating coaches in regard to contracts for the 2011 season, with the prospect of a job action looming as early as March of next year. Kennan would not supply specifics, because teams have warned coaches not to disclose contractual language, but teams have been planning how to treat coaches if a lockout occurs. Kennan broke down what teams are planning, in generalities:
• About a quarter of the 32 teams have not told coaches what their plans are, and whether they will employ coaches at their full or partial salaries -- or, in the case of one team, whether they will renew any of their contracts for the 2011 season.
• About a quarter of the teams have told coaches they will be paid normal salaries for between two months and six months -- and then, if there is a lockout, coaches will be paid a percentage of their contracts (which varies from team to team) while there is a lockout. If no games are lost due to the lockout, the lost money will be paid to coaches.
• About 10 teams will cut salaries immediately upon locking out the players. The pay cuts will be between 25 and 40 percent, and could increase if the job action persists.
• Several teams have told coaches they'll be paid in full, though some of that is still being determined by the remaining teams.
"It's really wrong that they tell us over and over again that we're family, then the first time there's a glitch in the system, they cut our pay,'' Kennan said.
The coaches are in a tough spot. They can't unionize, and they can't come forward complaining about their situations, for fear of retribution. But if there's no football, it stands to reason their contracts would be affected in some way -- because if the players aren't getting paid, most teams will feel, "Why should we pay the coaches who aren't coaching anyone?''
That doesn't stop the stress they feel. Most coaches don't have the bank balances of the players they coach. "And we don't have anywhere to go,'' said
One of those guys is Raye, a 30-year NFL coaching veteran. "One assistant called me and told me he was in the last year of his contract, wasn't sure he was going to be given another one, and wasn't sure if it would have much value because of the lockout,'' said Raye. "He's got a wife, three children and wondered if he should take a job he got offered at Northern Arizona or stay. I said, 'Come on, I can't advise you on that.' But here's a guy who wants to stay in the NFL, who's a good coach, and doesn't know what to do.''
Said Raye: "All I would ask is there be some concern for the coaches, a voice of concern for us, to calm the anxiety they feel. If the coaches are coaching with anxiety, I think it could take away from the quality of the game and affect their preparation time.''
Point noted. The assistants won't have their voices heard at these league meetings, but what would be good to see is a veteran coach with maximum job security pressing the league to get some equality in the contracts for the assistants -- so that the coaches for Team X are treated contractually the same as the coaches for Team Y in the event of a lockout.
Now for your e-mail:
I got quite a lot of negative feedback on this, and I'd ask you to look at
To get McNabb would cost the Steelers their first-round pick, the 18th in the draft, I would think. That's not the kind of thing a conservative team like the Steelers would do. Second, what happens if Roethlisberger is found to be innocent, and all he gets is a two-game NFL suspension for putting himself in position to tarnish the league's image? What do you do for the final 14 weeks of the season, with a quarterback you've traded a first-rounder for and another one who's won two Super Bowls?
It's not just one coach who feels that way.
I don't see OT reform passing here, but who knows? Stranger things -- many of them -- have happened.
You should work for the NFLPA. That's a refrain I'm hearing from a lot of players, and I think the NFL will have to re-frame its demands for a bigger piece of the revenue pie, because the public's not going to buy this one.
Exactly the question I asked Niners president