As former Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable was attempting to lead his team to the playoffs this season, owner Al Davis began deducting $20,000 from each of his head coach's paychecks until he had withheld $120,000 in fines, according to team sources.
In turn, Cable filed a grievance against his owner with the NFL, becoming the latest Raiders head coach to be embroiled in a financial dispute with his owner.
Now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will appoint an arbitrator to whom the Raiders and Cable will have to submit legal arguments and witnesses. The arbitrator then will make the final ruling.
The NFL is doing its due diligence to ascertain the exact reasons for the fines.
Raiders senior executive John Herrera declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
The financial feud illustrates how much the relationship between Davis and Cable deteriorated and helps explain why the Raiders' owner declined to pick up the two-year option in Cable's contract. The ouster of Cable drew criticism from the Raiders' players, including punter Shane Lechler.
But what few players in the locker room realized was that, as Oakland was registering its best season since its AFC championship in 2002, the Raiders' owner and head coach were barely communicating -- other than through legal channels.
Davis was said to be upset with Cable over the fact that Oakland lost two days of organized team activities (OTAs) in June 2010, among other things. The Raiders also lost a week of their offseason program in 2007 because of the intensity of practices under then coach Lane Kiffin, whom Davis also battled.
Kiffin filed a grievance against the Raiders after he was fired when he felt that Davis owed him money, but the arbitrator ruled in Oakland's favor. Davis has a history of financial disputes with his head coaches dating back to Mike Shanahan. The NFL has had to help settle financial disputes with four of Davis' past five head coaches, according to a source.
It's not atypical for teams and coaches to have financial disputes. But usually they come after termination, not before.
Davis is now searching for a head coach, and many believe the favorite for the job is Oakland's offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson. A potential offensive coordinator if Jackson is hired as coach is Al Saunders, a coach Davis long has liked.
Cable also is looking for a job and his agent, Don Yee, told The Associated Press the night that his client was fired that other teams already had begun expressing interest.
Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider.