Assistants could face pay cuts, layoffs

BY Alex Marvez • February 19, 2011

The NFL's 490 pending free agents aren't the only ones whose bank accounts will be affected by a work stoppage.

Larry Kennan knows that all too well.

The NFL Coaches Association's executive director expects that some franchises will begin immediate layoffs of assistant coaches if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can't be reached between the league and its players union by the March 4 deadline.

"I don't think there's any question," Kennan told me and co-host Jim Miller on Sirius NFL Radio. "The day after the lockout, I'm guessing there will be a significant number of coaches terminated."

Even those assistants who aren't laid off face significant pay cuts in the event of a lockout. Kennan said most assistants will be forced to take a salary reduction of 25 to 50 percent but are still expected to work inside team headquarters on a full-time basis.

"Everybody's writing about the players and the owners. That's a major deal," Kennan said. "But the players get paid during the season. If there's a work stoppage in March, it doesn't really affect the players. But it does affect the coaches. It affects us a whole lot more in March and April."

Kennan said the possibilities of layoffs and salary cuts are two of the disturbing developments that are affecting assistant coaches and leading some to seek jobs in the college ranks. Kennan also points to unfavorable changes that 12 NFL teams have made in their pension plans as well as the removal of the "supervisory" tag system that had allowed position coaches to interview for coordinator positions on other teams without the possibility of being blocked by their current employer. For example, two offensive line coaches (Chicago's Mike Tice and Bill Callahan of the New York Jets) were recently barred from interviewing to become Tennessee's offensive coordinator.

"There are a lot of things that have changed dramatically in the negative for the coaches over the past couple of years," said Kennan, who became the NFLCA director in 1999. "That's got us bothered."

Kennan said unionization of his group is a possibility but he hopes to generate change by meeting with NFL owners after a new CBA is finalized.

"We're laying out exactly what we're looking for," Kennan said Friday. "It isn't going to cost them a lot of money. We've never been greedy that way."