The NFL Coaches Association has hired sports lawyer David Cornwell -- a fierce critic of NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith -- as its executive director.
Cornwell has represented both the NFL and the union as well as several prominent NFL players, including Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson. He also was a candidate in 2009 to become executive director of the NFLPA, a job that went to Smith.
"I'm concerned about a leadership approach that seems to be infected by deception," Cornwell said. "Similarly in the collective bargaining process, it seemed to be infected by a lack of preparation that was kind of glossed over by spin. I think the National Football League deserves more and better."
Cornwell is particularly displeased about an agreement during last summer's labor negotiations that permitted the NFL to suspend certain players who committed violations of the league's personal-conduct policy during the lockout.
Smith will stand for re-election as NFLPA executive director in late March. Cornwell said he wouldn't challenge Smith again but opposes his re-election.
"The nature of the (NFLPA-NFLCA) relationship will be dictated by the nature of the mutual interests -- if any," Cornwell said. "I can tell you that I can see a clear path to addressing the issues of the coaches without relying on the players association. Frankly, I think we probably need to learn to walk on our own two feet now."
Jimmy Raye, president of the coaches association, said Cornwell's hiring comes at a time when the NFL is beginning a period of "unprecedented opportunities," and his "experience and relationships will enable the coaches' boat to rise with the tide."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.