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Players plan to take a hard look at whether De Smith should stay as NFLPA head

DeMaurice Smith AP

If NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith ultimately receives a $1 million bonus for his efforts in conjunction with the new labor deal, there’s a chance it could also be a severance payment.

Smith’s contract expires in March.  Even if he keeps the job, it won’t happen without a fight.

Multiple sources have informed PFT that the players intend to take a serious look at whether Smith is the right man to lead them into the next decade of labor peace.  Though most seem to have an open mind regarding the question of whether Smith should remain in the position now that the labor situation has been resolved, one source says that a group of player representatives intends to ask Smith to not even run for re-election.

Candidates who have been discussed as a possible alternative to Smith include, in no particular order, former NFL linebacker Derrick Brooks, NFL Alumni executive director George Martin, agent Tom Condon, sports lawyer and former NFLPA executive director finalist David Cornwell, Colts center Jeff Saturday, and NFLPA in-house counsel Tom DePaso.  It’s unknown whether any of these men actually want the job.

In contrast to the long tenure of Gene Upshaw, whose contract renewals were more automatic than an extra point attempt in a domed stadium, Smith’s reappointment will come, if at all, only after a comprehensive debate regarding the full range of his performance on the job.  And while Smith has supporters among the Executive Committee and the Board of Player Representatives, he also has vocal detractors among these two key groups who’ll determine whether Smith or someone else runs the union.

Helping Smith is the fact that he successfully stared down the NFL, preventing the owners from rolling back dramatically the percentage of the total revenue that the players traditionally have enjoyed.  As to the critical TV deals, which are expected to generate $7 billion per year by 2014, the players will receive 55 cents of every dollar that passes through the cash register.

But Smith has absorbed widespread criticism for his dotting of the i’s and his crossing of the t’s in the 11th hour of the negotiations.  In sharp contrast to the 2006 CBA renewal, which featured multiple player-friendly noneconomic terms that the NFLPA slipped past the league while the league was obsessed with issues like cutting up the pie and sharing revenue among the 32 clubs, the 2011 agreement became finalized without sufficient attention being paid to key details, such as the application of the personal conduct policy to players arrested during the lockout, the reintegration of the policy regarding recreational drugs, and the agreement to submit to HGH testing.  Most recently, one member of the Executive Committee tactfully, but distinctly, expressed regret regarding the failure of the NFLPA to insist on improved protocols for in-game concussion diagnosis.

Then there’s the question raised by some regarding whether Smith, a former litigator, has the skills — or the desire — to preside over a union that isn’t fighting tooth and nail with management.

Some wonder whether Smith even wants to stay.  Smith has faced questions in the past about his long-term goals and ambitions.  Some owners believed during the lockout that Smith was hoping to spark a protracted and contentious lockout in order to create the kind of name recognition that would support a run for political office.

Regardless of whether Smith ever has to campaign for Congress or the Senate, Smith finds himself in a slowly boiling campaign for the job he currently holds.  At some point soon, he’ll need to make sure that the players know that he indeed intends to try to keep it.

And then he may need to work almost as hard as he did during the lockout to make that happen.

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19 Responses to “Players plan to take a hard look at whether De Smith should stay as NFLPA head”
  1. bigjdve says: Dec 15, 2011 9:31 AM

    Most recently, one member of the Executive Committee tactfully, but distinctly, expressed regret regarding the failure of the NFLPA to insist on improved protocols for in-game concussion diagnosis.

    I love this one, so while we listen to the players, the fans, and the bloggers whining about Goodell being tough on the helmet to helmet hits, we have the NFLPA regretting that they didn’t force Goodell to do more.

    That is rich!

  2. twitter:Chapman_Jamie says: Dec 15, 2011 9:38 AM

    Most recently, one member of the Executive Committee tactfully, but distinctly, expressed regret regarding the failure of the NFLPA to insist on improved protocols for in-game concussion diagnosis.
    ——————————————————

    Just one member? I guess it isn’t as big of a concern as you want it to be.

    Anyways, De Smith would have been a far better leader had it not been for Kessler or whatever his name is. The lawyers for the NFLPA really did a number on the whole negotiations much like they did in the NBA. I despised during the whole lockout but after seeing the NBA’s situation unfold, the blame can’t all be placed on him.

    In my personal opinion Derrick Brooks would be a phenomenal leader. He was always well respected as a player and his experience combined with his class will earn him the same respect in this role.

  3. joetoronto says: Dec 15, 2011 9:39 AM

    There’s a tough decision. Ah, no.

  4. polegojim says: Dec 15, 2011 9:41 AM

    Agreed bigjdve – plus he gets the players a very good deal after heated and rocky negotiations… and they want him gone???

    Make my severance 2 mil and I’d bow out of that mess. It’s turned into a group of whinners who can’t decide what they want, with the puppet strings being pulled in all directions.

  5. duraco20 says: Dec 15, 2011 9:47 AM

    Who Cares?

  6. comeonnowguys says: Dec 15, 2011 9:51 AM

    Twelve months too late.

  7. phrancheyez says: Dec 15, 2011 9:54 AM

    That ‘one member of the NFLPA’ is Scott Fujita. I can all but guarantee it after the report only a few days ago saying he planned to push for independent neurologists at games to help diagnose and treat concussions.

    Why wouldn’t they just say his name? That said, I think he’s right.

    The difference is, there are actually players who care about there health, and then there are players who want to win no matter what. One wants more, the other wants less. It’s definitely not a ‘players vs. the league’ thing that everyone tries to make it out to be.

  8. realitypolice says: Dec 15, 2011 10:03 AM

    Love him or hate him, he served his purpose and should now be given his walking papers.

    The type of leadership that will be needed over the next 10 years of the CBA cannot and should not be provided by a litigator.

    It should be an ex-player respected by both the players and the owners.

    Troy Vincent, who nearly got elected once before, comes to mind.

    If Jeff Saturday should retire after this season for some reason, he would also be a good choice.

  9. frodekippe says: Dec 15, 2011 10:15 AM

    I really don’t know enough about DeMaurice Smith as a person to debate his eligibility as head of the NFLPA, but all I do know is that man has got one hell of an annoying face!

  10. tombradyswig says: Dec 15, 2011 10:31 AM

    DE MO MUST GO!!
    He’s a grubby lawyer joke!

    HIRE TROY VINCENT!!

  11. marvsleezy says: Dec 15, 2011 10:33 AM

    If I were the players I would have made a last minute push for NO PENALTIES FOR EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION. ANYTHING GOES!

    The only thing they should do is force them to kick the extra point within 30 seconds, so everyone would be in a rush – If you dont get the play off, make that a 15 yard penalty.

  12. noeffinway says: Dec 15, 2011 11:03 AM

    I really really do hope that Brooks gets the job. I cannot stand listening to the man – which causes me to have to tune away from sirrius nfl radio for a couple hours a day. His use of slang is disgusting….it is “ASK” not “axe”…………….yeah it really is.

  13. gtmann says: Dec 15, 2011 11:20 AM

    ealitypolice says

    I agree wiyh both Vincent and Saturday but here is another name for you. How about Brian Dawkins ? He is VERY intelligent and reasonable .Plus not many people know the game better than he does.

  14. qdog112 says: Dec 15, 2011 11:22 AM

    I knew from the labor talks that Jeff Saturday wanted a position of power and kissed up to ownership to prove it. He’s the perfect lapdog for Goodell, just as Gene Upshaw was for Tagliabue. Dee Smith is the best thing to happen to the NFLPA in …. forever and that’s why some want him out.

    There is no need for a union if somebody like Saturday gets in. There’s no discussion. Smith held the owners’ feet to the fire and threatened to make them open their books. I hope the players aren’t stupid enough to remove him.

  15. realitypolice says: Dec 15, 2011 11:39 AM

    @gtmann:

    I would have no problem with BDawk, he just doesn’t come to mind because I haven’t known him to be one of the players who gets that involved with the politics of the game the way Vincent and Saturday do.

  16. CKL says: Dec 15, 2011 12:09 PM

    Dec 15, 2011 11:22 AM
    I knew from the labor talks that Jeff Saturday wanted a position of power and kissed up to ownership to prove it. He’s the perfect lapdog for Goodell, just as Gene Upshaw was for Tagliabue. Dee Smith is the best thing to happen to the NFLPA in …. forever and that’s why some want him out.

    There is no need for a union if somebody like Saturday gets in. There’s no discussion. Smith held the owners’ feet to the fire and threatened to make them open their books. I hope the players aren’t stupid enough to remove him.

    ____________________________
    ???????????????????
    He is the one who pushed the most for no padded practices.How is that a lapdog for anything related to the NFL?

    The problem with this type of job is that a person who would be good at it wouldn’t want it. It would have to be a guy who could work with both sides and not be inflammatory like De was.

  17. mattolikesthevikes says: Dec 15, 2011 12:17 PM

    Should’ve done it when the lockout started.

  18. prior0knowledge says: Dec 15, 2011 1:29 PM

    De got the players a great deal. He deserves his bonus and then some. But I can’t believe he wants to or would be good at running the NFLPA for the next 10 years of labor peace arguing over minutia.

  19. axespray says: Dec 15, 2011 6:22 PM

    “How about Brian Dawkins ? ”
    – nah, dawks been banging heads his whole career on the field, dude is smart and highly respected, but you can’t rely on a dude that’s had a couple concussions, he’s a liability …

    like hiring nero or some other faulty pipe water drinking roman guy.

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