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NFLCA COACHES HOLD "QUIET" PROTEST; OWNERS GAIN AFL ENTRY
Published May 21, 1998
At the NFL owners meetings in FL, "most members" of the NFL Coaches Association (NFLCA) "quietly took part in a protest" before a coaching symposium was set to begin, according to Mike Freeman of the N.Y. TIMES. The group of "about" 50 to 60 coaches, "upset with issues they say include race and age discrimination, as well as pension plan issues, staged a non-confrontational protest that could signal future labor unrest." The members entered the symposium 15 minutes late on Wednesday morning "to show the league that coaches, particularly assistants, are unified and prepared to take on the league." Among the coaches were Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes and former Raiders head coach Art Shell. Also present was NFLCA Founder William Wallen, who said that 94% of the NFL's assistants are association members. But NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the protest "bordered on silliness because we're well aware of their issues." Tagliabue: "We've been talking to them; more than talking to them, we've changed a number of policies." He cited changes in the league's health insurance plan (N.Y. TIMES, 5/21). In DC, Leonard Shapiro writes that the NFLCA members now face "a more important question: What next?" Sources say the NFLCA "will not register as a union, but that a class-action lawsuit charging the NFL with age and race discrimination is being considered." While coaches acknowledged the health insurance changes, they said other issues "have not been addressed" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/21). OTHER LEAGUE NOTES: NFL owners adopted a resolution to allow NFL teams to own AFL teams within their own markets. ...Kansas City's proposal to be considered to host the 40th Super Bowl in 2006 was rejected (USA TODAY, 5/21)....NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw said the league should make the new Browns franchise competitive as quickly as it can: "We are not going to punish an expansion team for being an expansion team. It's not fair to the players, it's not fair to the city, it's not fair to the new owners, and it's not fair to the league" (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/21). Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson: "We'll resolve it in a way that will give them a fair chance to compete. Ours worked well" (SUN-SENTINEL, 5/21)....Of the 52,000 PSLs sold for the new Browns franchise, about 10,000 are left, most of which cost $250 or $500 (BEACON JOURNAL, 5/21)....In San Jose, Sam Farmer writes that during the meetings, NFL owners "tiptoed oh so close to the issues troubling the 49ers, yet never treading on that delicate ground." Tagliabue, on the fate of the team's $525M stadium/mall complex: "I really haven't spent enough time on it recently to feel comfortable that what I would say would even be accurate" (MERCURY NEWS, 5/21).