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Cornwell named NFLCA executive director

David-Cornwell

As expected, the NFL Coaches Association has named sports lawyer David Cornwell the organization’s new executive director.

The announcement came earlier today.

“The NFL is embarking on a period of unprecedented opportunities and coaches will make a vital contribution in making those opportunities a reality,” NFLCA president Jimmy Raye said in a release.  “I have known David for 25 years and we believe that his experience and relationships will enable the coaches’ boat to rise with the tide.”

“I am both honored and humbled to serve as Executive Director of the NFL Coaches Association,” Cornwell said.  “Since the days of former Redskins’ coaches Otto Graham and George Allen, I have marveled at the depth of the commitment and scope of the contribution that NFL coaches make to this great League.  As the NFL embarks on a new and what we all expect to be an unprecedented phase of growth, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute in any way I can to ensure that coaches’ interests are protected and that they enjoy the fruits of their contribution to the NFL.”

The bigger question entails Cornwell’s ultimate plan for protecting coaches’ interests.  There has been talk from time to time of unionizing, driven by hours worked to changes in benefits to the threats to assistant coaches’ salary posed during a disruptive player lockout in 2011.  Cornwell didn’t address that issue in his comments from Tuesday.

“Coaches were asked to make sacrifices in anticipation of a prolonged labor dispute,” Cornwell said.  “As the ultimate team players, coaches did so and when the lockout was lifted, they were prepared to go to work immediately.  The fact that this season was one of the most exciting seasons in NFL history is a testament to the men who play the game and the men who coach them.  I am particularly anxious to hit the ground running at the NFL Combine this week to listen to the members regarding issues that affect them in their business.”

The hiring of Cornwell calls into question the relationship between the organizations representing the men who play the game and the men who coach them.  Cornwell has been outspoken in his criticism of NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, calling for Smith’s ouster in a memo issued to all agents days before the Super Bowl.  Cornwell has since said nothing to rescind those concerns, and it’s our understanding the atmosphere between the two groups has become somewhat strained in the last year, after a variety of coaches spoke out publicly against a legal brief filed by the NFLCA in support of the players’ position in the antitrust lawsuit filed when the lockout began.

Thus, while the two groups have many natural similarities in their interests, it could be more challenging than ever for the NFLPA and NFLCA to get on the same page.

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