When it comes to the looming NFLPA executive director election, PFT has tried to assume a neutral and objective posture. But that doesn’t mean we’ll ignore baseless accusations made by members of the media who may have a bias against current union leadership or a desire to see some other candidate prevail in the voting.
On Wednesday, reports emerged that the NFLPA’s annual meeting, which will include the executive director election, will be held in Hawaii, with player representatives, alternatives, and candidates for the job held by DeMaurice Smith flown first class and lodged at the Ritz-Carlton. That has prompted some to suggest that the costs are unnecessary, that they will be covered by union dues, and/or that the decision to splurge on a trip to Hawaii for the first time since 2010 represents an effort by Smith to “buy off” at least 17 of the 32 men who’ll be voting on whether to keep Smith or to replace him.
There’s nothing wrong with having suspicions. But to hurl uncorroborated accusations when a quick phone call or text message to the NFLPA would lead to a much different truth is irresponsible. (Some would say it’s even despicable or reprehensible.)
NFLPA president Eric Winston tells PFT that the Executive Committee, not Smith or his staff, determined via vote the location for the annual meeting. Also, Winston said all union operations are funded not by player dues but by revenues from Players, Inc., the for-profit arm of the NFLPA that raises money via licensing, merchandising, and revenue streams unrelated to the money paid by each player for the membership in the union.
Likewise, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that player representatives and alternates always are flown via first-class fare to the annual meeting.
When owners travel in expensive fashion and stay in swanky hotels, some say that’s because the owners crushed the NFLPA in the last CBA. When the NFLPA does, those inclined to say the NFLPA was crushed in the last CBA accuse the union of waste, incompetence, and/or corruption.
Whatever the motivation, it’s wrong to suggest a false narrative when the truth is so easy to discover.