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Coaches could take hefty hit in NFL lockout

By Michael Marot

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 24 2011 2:25 p.m. MST

NFL Coaches Association executive director Larry Kennan speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011.

Darron Cummings, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — NFL head coaches and assistants could lose up to 50 percent of their salaries in 2011 if there is a lockout — and that might not even be the worst part.

They could lose their jobs, too.

It's up to each of the league's 32 teams to decide.

"Every team has a clause that says their salary will be rolled back at a certain point in time," NFL coaches association executive director Larry Kennan said Thursday. "The good teams say they won't roll back salaries for six months. The bad teams say they'll roll it back immediately and certain teams have it written into the contracts that they can be terminated immediately. That's for all coaches and head coaches."

Kennan, a former NFL assistant, spoke at a news conference at the NFL's annual scouting combine for draft prospects.

He said most coaches had lockout clauses added to their contracts over the last three years, though some powerful head coaches were able to negotiate the language out of their deals.

How much could a potential lockout cost coaches?

It depends on the coach, his salary and how long a lockout lasts.

Most teams, Kennan says, will not dock coaches anything for 30 days and most teams will wait 60 days to start reducing salaries. In that scenario a coach, such as Washington's Mike Shanahan, who reportedly makes $7 million per year, could lose $1.75 million. That total could reach $3.5 million if the lockout went 120 days.

Assistant coaches who make far less than head coaches would face cuts of similar percentages but far less in overall money. And more than half a dozen teams, Kennan says, have promised head coaches and assistants that they will recoup those lost wages if no games are canceled. Kennan's advice: Be frugal.

"I've told them if you can save some money do it," he said. "There's enough stress on these guys without being docked 25 percent of their pay."

About two hours after Kennan spoke, federal mediator George Cohen issued a statement saying "some progress was made, but very strong differences remain" between the sides after seven consecutive days of talks in Washington.

It's the first bit of concrete news to emerge from the mediation.

Members of the NFL management council were scheduled to update head coaches and general managers about negotiations later Thursday in Indianapolis.

"We can't comment," new Denver Broncos coach John Fox said. "That's the league, they'll take care of it. We have a meeting tonight to get up to speed, but that's really all I can mention now."

But the more immediate concern for Kennan, Fox and the other coaches is surviving the possible financial fallout of a lockout.

"If there is a lockout starting March 4, coaches will take a pay cut of varying degrees," Kennan said. "Players will be affected because they'll loses bonuses, but they don't lose salary in March, April or May. The coaches will lose pay."

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