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Belichick hearings underway

After more than a week of speculation, the NFL began hearings yesterday to determine whether former New York Jets assistant head coach Bill Belichick will be allowed to seek employment elsewhere as a head coach.

The hearings took place in New York and cases from both sides were heard in seven hours of testimony, but NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said that Commissioner Paul Tagliabue would not make a ruling until Monday at the earliest.

Belichick was contractually elevated to head coach of the Jets when former coach Bill Parcells retired on Jan. 3. Not wanting to live under Parcells' considerable shadow, Belichick chose to resign the position the next day, leading to the current state of affairs. The Jets claim he's still under contract (for three more years) and Belichick believes he's free to make a deal with the team of his choice.

Jeffrey Kessler, Belichick's lead attorney, and Neil Cornrich, his agent, made their case to Tagliabue and Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead counsel. The Jets also gave testimony and were offered an extension to offer more today but declined. Belichick testified on his behalf and Kessler called Jets offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as well. Parcells spoke on behalf of the Jets.

Kessler, who has experience in players' union battles with the NBA, believes that for the NFL to not allow Belichick to seek further employment would be depriving him the right to earn a living. Most of the speculation around the case suggests that a team would owe the Jets some sort of compensation in exchange for Belichick's services, but Kessler feels that notion is false and plans to fight the league in federal court if necessary. Kessler also contends that the Jets no longer want Belichick's services, forcing him to seek employment elsewhere.

According to Kessler, if the Jets and the league don't allow that, they would be in violation of Belichick's rights. The Jets feel their contract with Belichick is binding. More testimony will be heard today before a resolution is reached early next week.
After more than a week of speculation, the NFL began hearings yesterday to determine whether former New York Jets assistant head coach Bill Belichick will be allowed to seek employment elsewhere as a head coach.

The hearings took place in New York and cases from both sides were heard in seven hours of testimony, but NFL spokeswoman Leslie Hammond said that Commissioner Paul Tagliabue would not make a ruling until Monday at the earliest.

Belichick was contractually elevated to head coach of the Jets when former coach Bill Parcells retired on Jan. 3. Not wanting to live under Parcells' considerable shadow, Belichick chose to resign the position the next day, leading to the current state of affairs. The Jets claim he's still under contract (for three more years) and Belichick believes he's free to make a deal with the team of his choice.

Jeffrey Kessler, Belichick's lead attorney, and Neil Cornrich, his agent, made their case to Tagliabue and Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead counsel. The Jets also gave testimony and were offered an extension to offer more today but declined. Belichick testified on his behalf and Kessler called Jets offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as well. Parcells spoke on behalf of the Jets.

Kessler, who has experience in players' union battles with the NBA, believes that for the NFL to not allow Belichick to seek further employment would be depriving him the right to earn a living. Most of the speculation around the case suggests that a team would owe the Jets some sort of compensation in exchange for Belichick's services, but Kessler feels that notion is false and plans to fight the league in federal court if necessary. Kessler also contends that the Jets no longer want Belichick's services, forcing him to seek employment elsewhere.

According to Kessler, if the Jets and the league don't allow that, they would be in violation of Belichick's rights. The Jets feel their contract with Belichick is binding. More testimony will be heard today before a resolution is reached early next week.

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