Football, General Counsel, In-House Counsel, Labor / Employment, Screw-Ups, Sports

How to Get Fired From Your Job as General Counsel to an NFL Team

He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

It’s playoff time in the National Football League. Fun times. This year’s playoffs are more intense than usual, since Tim Tebow is probably the only conservative who can challenge Obama this fall.

I’m a Tim Tebow convert. Sure, if Tim Tebow were black, he’d be a back-up tight end, but that’s not a reason to hate on Tebow. He wins football games. What more do you want from him? There aren’t a lot of elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Tebow’s not elite, but he wins games. Wouldn’t you rather roll the dice with the Tebow show than going with the practiced mediocrity of Kevin Kolb, or Colt McCoy, or David Garrard? I honestly think that Tebow gets a lot of hate because so many people passed on Tebow to go with guys like that.

Jacksonville did. Tebow is a god in Florida (I mean, Tebow threw for 316 prophetic yards last night, so I do not rule out the possibility that he’s a God everywhere), and he was sitting there in the draft when Jacksonville was starting David Garrard and they passed on him. Now, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a new owner. Coincidence?

In fairness, the Jaguars seem to be a terribly run organization. It appears that even the Jags’ lawyers can’t get it together. The new owner reportedly removed the team’s general counsel for something that looks like an unforgivable error for a lawyer to make….

According to ESPN, the Jaguars might owe seven assistant coaches a whole extra year of salary because of a mistake in the coaches’ contracts. Paul Vance, the general counsel and senior vice president of football operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars, appears to have lost his job because of the alleged mistake.

If the seven assistants have to be paid for another year, it could cost the team $3.5 to $4 million. But I bet Vance’s problem isn’t just about the money. Instead it’s the making of the alleged error in the first place:

The seven assistants had signed extensions in 2010 and the club believed it was for two years that would expire at the end of the 2011 season. However, the applicable clause in dispute states, “shall terminate on the later of January 31, 2012 or the day after the Jaguars’ last football game of the 2012 season and playoffs….”

Consequently, the assistant coaches want to be compensated for the 2012 season, especially if they remain unemployed. Those coaches’ specific names have not been confirmed.

Vance, who was dismissed Sunday as the team’s senior vice president of football operations and general counsel, called it an incorrect reference and that it “should have read the 2011 NFL season.” Vance termed it an error and “there was no intent on your part or our part of the club to establish a contract for the 2012 season,” according to a correspondence acquired by ESPN that was sent to the coaches.

Shahid Khan bought the Jaguars for $660 million and took on the team’s $110 million in debt. I don’t think that an extra $4 million is going to break him. And it’s possible that Vance was let go for his performance as VP of football operations instead of his apparent brain fart as general counsel.

But really, whether it’s drafting Tyson Alualu over Tim Tebow or drafting a proper employment contract, the Jacksonville organization may need some more basic competence.

Sources: Jags, Paul Vance to part ways [ESPN]

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