This isn’t Steelers-related, but it is league related, and we like to branch out here and there where it is appropriate, and where it might eventually crop up for Pittsburgh, or at least in events that give us the opportunity to compare and contrast with them.
Over the course of the past week, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost a major grievance filed by the NFLPA, with an arbitrator ruling that the franchise has been improperly requiring players to engage in offseason rehabilitation efforts at their facility via fines. Former player Dante Fowler was fined over $700,000 over a series of such incidents.
It all stemmed from Tom Coughlin, who has been the vice president of football operations in Jacksonville for the past three seasons. He helped them climb out of the doghouse that year, reaching the postseason and knocking the Pittsburgh Steelers out after going 13-3 in the regular season—with one of those losses also coming to Jacksonville.
Coughling, known to be a hardline and old school sort, had evidently overstepped his bounds a number of times in the enforcement of these practices that violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement through fines.
The NFLPA issued a letter following the arbitration explaining the ruling and the circumstances. Within the letter, the association even urged players to take caution when considering their next team in free agency, noting that 25 percent of all grievances filed by players against teams since last year were filed against the Jaguars.
Owner Shad Khan elected to fire Coughlin, declining the opportunity to give him the chance to resign, saying that the decision had already been made to part ways after the season, but the NFLPA’s letter accelerated the process for him.
It’s hard to imagine ever seeing something like this in Pittsburgh. If anything, it would be quite the opposite. We at times hear of fines, but we also hear that they’re not particularly stringent in enforcing and collecting those fines. Antonio Brown was fined, but rarely had to actually pay, for being chronically late to meetings and things like that.
Among the many instances that have been cited was in 2017 when Jared Odrick filed and won a grievance against the Jaguars for refusing to pay money guaranteed to him. The Jaguars argued that he voided his guarantee by not showing up for checkups during his rehab. That was a violation of the CBA and did not void any guarantees, but an organization like Pittsburgh would not even go after that money in the first place.