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NFL Coaches Have A Hammer To Swing

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NFL Coaches Have A Hammer To Swing

Last week, the NFL Coaches Association caused a minor tremor in the ongoing labor negotiations by filing an Amicus Brief with the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, essentially siding with the former players union in asking the Court to "end the lockout."

Since the filing of the brief, the coaching staffs for the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints have stated publicly that they did not support this latest action from the Association designed to protect their interests.

It would seem that NFL coaches have missed a golden opportunity here.

While you can see in the reaction from the Redskins and Saints' coaching staffs how much certain groups would really need to face the prospect with steely resolve, coaches throughout the NFL should be grabbing this moment in history and be forming their own union.

I can hear the groans already - fans sick and tired of reading endless labor headlines mutter "Just what this situation needs - another union."

Unions exist, or used to at any rate, in order to protect an exploited workforce. And if the last few weeks of pay cuts for coaches have taught us anything its that coaches can be easily just that - exploited.

Writing in the brief, lawyers for the Coaches Association said "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." This echoes exactly what went on with players before they formed a union to better protect themselves. Individually negotiated contracts, all of them easily manipulated by ownership.

If the coaches were to unionize they could swing a rather large hammer right smack dab in the middle of the current labor proceedings. The NFL is locking out its current players - would it do the same to its coaches if they formed a union? When the NFL and the former players union eventually cobble together a new CBA, a coaches union would have a powerful voice in how things like offseason schedules and in-season practice schedules get set up, how much or how little hitting would be allowed in those practices - not to mention how much and when disciplinary action could be meted out.

Yes, this would be a nightmare for the NFL - though the league could use the opportunity to play the coaches and the players off each other in negotiations.

The fact of the matter is, while players more than deserve the right to protect themselves in this labor fight, the NFL's coaches deserve to have a voice in what could be the formation of a new NFL landscape - whenever Courtroom Football (thanks, Andrew) ends and negotiations begin.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Tarynfor 12's picture

Unions can be highly beneficial and /or a total travesty to it's members.The coaches would and could benefit from a union but put simply,if they were to unionize,it more likely would become another cog in the system unless their union agreements fell in tune with the players union(?)as to CBA time frames.Otherwise we the fans will merely get punished twice with new CBA talks for the players and coaches at different times.

Imagine having a great season come to a halt in week ten due to an expiration of either the players or coaches CBAs expiring every 3rd and 5th year.
Naturally,the owners would push for keeping them separate(divide or keep divided to conquer) as having both unions strike at the same time may/could more possibly guarantee the lost of a season or seasons at a time,in lieu of games.

I'm sure there are many coaches on many levels who are just as unhappy with their salaries and benefits when compared to the players who they babysit and feel a little abused via their compensation for such.

Will the HC become Head Manager and OCs and DCs become Asst Mgrs to weaken the union(future)by severing them from a COACHES UNION.The Rank and File lines must be drawn and the backs of each begin to face each other.
IMO,and perhaps not a sensible one to some.

Chazman's picture

Two thoughts –
One – Unions, like government, are created to solve certain situations. Once solved they have to find reasons to remain relevant and in the words of Governor J. Le Petomane, “we have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here gentlemen!” They have a habit of becoming the next set of problems.
Two – Player’s union, or trade association when it suits them, wants to cut down on off-season work outs and training sessions. Coaches like Mike McCarthy think that is a bad idea. What happens when the two unions square off against each other?

jeremy's picture

"Once solved they have to find reasons to remain relevant."

I agree this is the crux of the issue with unions. In many cases the problem than is union officials are protecting their own jobs.

WoodyG's picture

Owners hire & fire their coaches either directly or at least indirectly ..... How long will coaches be retained after they've taken an anti-ownership stance forced on them by their union in a labor dispute ? ......

NFL coaches have a hammer to swing ..... It's that hammer they'll use in their new job as a construction worker after they've been blackballed & labeled as 'not a team player' by owners .....

packeraaron's picture

Who then do the owners hire to coach their football teams, if every NFL coach is in a union? Sure there are always coaches looking for work, but somehow I have trouble imagining the offensive coordinator from Smithville High School is up to the task...

WoodyG's picture

Exactly why coaches will never have a bargaining type union representing them ..... Same reason why the Redskin & Saint coaches said "Hey, wait a second". .....

Unions only widen gaps that already exist ..... What's next ? .... A 'GM only' union to protect all NFL GMs ? ....

Individual thought & opinion are stifled by unions .... This lock-out would be over by now if the players were allowed to freely express themselves & thus influence the final CBA ....

In fact, I'm waiting for that 'muted' group of players to emerge & get this BS rolling to a final CBA ....

packeraaron's picture

You and me both on that last one brother...

MarkinMadison's picture

I'm not sure that the role of a coach is compatible with being in a union. Coaches review player performance, and (at least head coaches) have significant input regarding hiring and firing decisions. While this may not technically disqualify them from being in a union under federal law, it is enough in that general direction that you would have to ask the question, and you would have to wonder if it really makes sense.

Not to mention the fact that right now there is no "cap" on the amount of money that coaches can make. Granted, they don't rake in what the players do, but teams are free to pay a coach whatever they like right now. As long as a player salary cap is in play the marginal value of a great coach to an organization will be perceived as being higher. Think about the lack of respect that Joe Torre got for managing loaded Yankees teams. Call me on it if I'm wrong, but the Hoodie has probably broken a few salary records for coaches. I suspect many coaches prefer the current world.

DaveK's picture

I don't think coaches want anything to do with collective bargaining for their jobs. They are doing pretty well negotiating their own terms of employment individually without the hassle/ego/politics of collective bargaining. The benefits you argue for unionizing honestly seem menial when taken into context of how well the coaches do for themselves and the power they hold in most organizations. It's not like they are a victimized under-compensated group that has little or no say in their employer's employment practices. They hold a lot of power and say within the organization and unionization probably sours a fairly good and cooperative relationship with their owners/GMs. The benefit of a union just isn't there for them.

Wiscokid's picture

Aren't coaches considered management?

Besides, I thought Governor Walker abolished unions or at least he's trying to.

kparis99's picture

Off topic here..., but I know the fans at CheesheadTV know this kind of stuff.

Does anyone know when the DVD set of full length 2010 games is comming out? I'm talking about the DVD set like the Saints had last year with four full games including their playoff run? I'm anxious to re-live last season for a while. The lockouts got me down.

Thanks.

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