Monday, August 2, 2010

Titanic Terms

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Is Lane Kiffin trying to pull the plug on the Titans hopes this season?
  • Photo: The Redshirt Senior
  • Is Lane Kiffin trying to pull the plug on the Titans' hopes this season?
Both sides are now lawyered up in the matter of Good v. Evil Tennessee Football Inc. v. Lane Kiffin and the University of Southern California, and the lawsuit is offering a glimpse at what makes the NFL and its teams especially fretful on the HR front.

Appended to the Titans' complaint is the employment contract of Kennedy Pola, the onetime USC star running back hired last February to coach the backfield for the Titans. Ex-UT coach Kiffin lured Pola to USC last month as offensive coordinator, leaving the Titans short-staffed just before the season starts and prompting the lawsuit.

In exchange for a hefty salary — the amount is redacted in the copy of the contract filed with the court, but the blank is big enough to fit seven digits — the Titans extracted a number of thou-shalt-not commitments from Pola.

One such provision gets the shouty-caps treatment:

YOU WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE MAKE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE COMMENTARY (INCLUDING "OFF-THE-RECORD" STATEMENTS) TO ANYONE ABOUT THE STATUS OF TITANS' NEGOTIATIONS WITH ANY PLAYER OR OFFER ANY STATEMENT REGARDING THE ADVISABILITY OR DESIRABILITY OF SIGNING OR NOT SIGNING ANY PLAYER.

And then there's the no-talkie rule...

You may not appear on any television or radio program unless and until specifically approved by Titans.

...as well as the NFL version of a dress code:

You will not accept any consideration from third parties for and will not wear, display or promote any apparel or other product bearing commercial names or logos of manufacturers throughout the game-day period while You are in view of the stadium and television audience, including any pre-game warmups, in the bench area, and during post-game interviews in the locker room or on the field. However, You understand that pursuant to such NFL Properties licensing programs, You are expected to wear merchandise on game day on the sidelines as provided by official NFL suppliers and as directed by NFL Properties, and You agree to do so.

The agreement includes strict rules about the use of company-owned property, both tangible and intellectual:

You acknowledge that Property is developed or obtained by Titans at significant expense and that a part of Your Work and Job Duties is to protect It and insure that it is not mishandled, lost or damaged. Property You develop during the Term is to be used exclusively by and for the sole benefit of Titans. Property that is scouting or combine data or information is to be used only for Titans' sole and exclusive benefit and You promise that You will never provide any Property to any third party for any reason.... You may be libel [sic] for civil damages resulting from Your misuse of Property or Your violation of provisions of this Agreement relating to Property.

It looks as though Pola pretty flagrantly flouted this rule, even though he is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit:

You agree that You will not under any circumstance solicit discussions or entertain employment with any other person or entity during the Term unless You are given written permission to do so by Titans or by the Commissioner in accordance with NFL Rules, Verbal consent is inadequate.

Finally, in an addendum, come the carrot and stick of a fringe benefit that must surely be known within the walls of Titans' offices as the McNair Codicil:

You understand and acknowledge that during the Term, Titans currently offers to You a free taxi and/or car service for transportation 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, in the events You have been drinking and need transportation to Your home or elsewhere. Your arrest for driving while intoxicated or driving under the Influence of drugs or alcohol is a violation of NFL Rules and Titan Policies and can be Cause for Termination and/or discipline under this Agreement.

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