By Leonard Shapiro and Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, January 23, 2006
DENVER, Jan. 22 -- Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the NFL and the players' union still have major work to do before reaching a collective bargaining agreement that would allow the league to avoid a work stoppage. One of the big issues is revenue sharing, he said, and one of the things that could enter into talks is the way in which the Washington Redskins have increased the salaries of assistant coaches.
Speaking with reporters on a variety of topics before Sunday's AFC championship game between Pittsburgh and Denver, Tagliabue said of the negotiations, "We're still slogging away. Sometimes it seems we're taking two steps forward and one step back."
Of an upcoming meeting, Tagliabue said: "What's going to happen Thursday in Orlando? Not a lot. The main purpose of that meeting is to get all the owners engaged, back in the issue and reopen the dialogue. I don't think we'll be voting on anything."
He described the two sides as getting "closer" on the critical issue of revenue sharing. "At this point," he said, "we've solved some issues, but it's kind of one step forward . . . then hit a roadblock." The commissioner did not elaborate on what those road blocks are.
When asked his reaction to the Redskins signing defensive assistant Gregg Williams to a contract worth approximately $2.7 million per year and offensive assistant Al Saunders to a contract worth approximately $2 million per year, the commissioner said the escalation of assistants' salaries could enter into the discussion of revenue sharing. And Tagliabue indicated the players' union would want to closely examine what to do about so much money that has been outside revenue-sharing parameters.
Tagliabue also talked about the issue of minority hiring, considering that no minority coaches have been hired to fill the NFL's 10 openings. Only the Oakland Raiders' job remains open. Herman Edwards, who is black, went from coaching the New York Jets to coaching the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although there are six black coaches, Tagliabue said he is "disappointed" that minority candidates have been passed over. He added that he would be concerned that the league is regressing should the same thing happens next year.