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If you can’t appeal to their sense of goodwill, appeal to their sense of greed.

That is the deeper message of week 15 Sunday Splash! reports one of the messages the league office sent to 32 owners this week.

Via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter, the NFL told teams that they spent a combined $800 million over the past five years on fired coaches and front office executives.

Why should the league office care whether owners should fund coach and manager buyouts? It has no effect on the operation or profitability of the league. At least not directly.

Implicitly, fewer openings mean fewer hires, meaning fewer data points that together help prove that owners do a very poor job of hiring minority coaches.

It’s the lowest of the low-tech strategies. Each year, as the dust settles on the coaching carousel, the demographics of the new recruits lead to another wave of discussion and debate about the fact that real progress has yet to be seen. The fewer the hires, the less important the final numbers are.

Will that be enough to make an owner who was already thinking about making a change stop? Many factors go into the decision-making process when it comes to firing a coach. If the fan base gets frustrated and can show it with their wallets, the team may actually lose more money by keeping the coach or the GM than by firing either or both.

There’s another message, a more subtle one, from what the league told owners. Pay less. Include less guaranteed dollars. Use the leverage you have when awarding the world’s most coveted jobs.

The whole thing underscores the reality that, even though the NFL is made up of 32 different businesses, The Shield’s sponsor becomes the device that tries to force those 32 businesses to act semi-coordinated. While it can sometimes be as effective as herding squirrels, there is an unmistakable effort to get everyone on the same page.

By definition, it’s an arrangement. With the league defending an unprecedented case of racial discrimination, it may only be a matter of time before the league finds itself on the wrong end of a landmark antitrust case.

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