- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 20, 2001

Although Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer's job status might be uncertain, his financial future became secure this week with an NFL ruling that a coach's guaranteed contract must be paid despite early termination.
Former Buffalo Bills coach Wade Phillips was awarded the remaining $750,000 of his contract Thursday after NFL arbitrator Jay Moyer rejected owner Ralph Wilson's claim that Phillips' insubordination had voided the deal. Wilson said Phillips essentially quit in January after refusing to follow the owner's demand that special teams coach Ronnie Jones be fired. Phillips received $200,000 of the remaining year of his $950,000 contract before Wilson ended payments.
"Naturally, I'm disappointed in a ruling that awards money to Wade Phillips for his departure from the Bills," Wilson said. "Phillips claims he was fired. I reject that. He forced his dismissal with unreasonable behavior. The league is creating a dangerous precedent when it allows the coach or player to collect money on a contract for failing to obey a reasonable order of a superior."
The decision, which came more than five months after the hearing, increases Schottenheimer's leverage against probable dismissal come season's end. NFL and team sources said Redskins owner Dan Snyder and minority owner Fred Drasner already are considering replacements for Schottenheimer after the team's 0-5 start. Florida coach Steve Spurrier is the front-runner despite Snyder's failed attempts to sign him in January. Spurrier rejected a reported $2.5 million deal that NFL sources said could be doubled in the next attempt.
Schottenheimer signed a four-year, $10 million pact, with another $1 million in annual incentives should the team win the NFC championship and Super Bowl. If he was dismissed, Schottenheimer would be owed $7.5 million.
NFL sources said Drasner has told people the team has three months to figure a way to dismiss Schottenheimer without paying the remaining money. Among the scenarios mentioned was demanding that Schottenheimer release the assistant coaches, including son Brian (quarterbacks) and brother Kurt (defensive coordinator) or hire a general manager.
If Schottenheimer had refused either demand, the owners might have tried Wilson's tactic and fired the coach for insubordination. However, the arbitrator's decision now precludes insubordination as reason for dismissal.
Schottenheimer declined comment on the ruling.
Snyder still could dismiss Schottenheimer and staff, but he would have to fulfill Schottenheimer's contract over the remaining three years and assistant coaches for two years. Should anyone work elsewhere, his earnings would be deducted from Snyder's deal. Currently, Snyder is paying former coach Norv Turner the final $1 million of his contract through January.
No firm decision has been made on Schottenheimer's future, according to NFL and team sources. However, the team would need a dramatic turnaround after three early blowout losses and ranking last in total offense and next to last in defense.
Snyder gave complete control of football operations to Schottenheimer after actively participating in player acquisitions last year. The blockbuster deals for now-departed cornerback Deion Sanders, quarterback Jeff George and safety Mark Carrier are among the reasons Washington was unable to retain its top free agents or sign any prominent newcomers over the offseason because of salary cap restrictions.
However, Snyder is seeking a more active role and recently scouted possible first-round quarterbacks David Carr (Fresno State) and Joey Harrington (Oregon) along with Drasner and vice president Pepper Rodgers. Schottenheimer said he wasn't concerned over Snyder scouting but then changed his prior stance of not wanting to draft a passer in the first round.

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