NFLPA facing major leadership overhaul

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NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith remains under contract for another year.  But plenty of other key union leaders will be replaced this year, because those spots are held by players who no longer play.

President Domonique Foxworth, who retired as a player just a few months after winning the position, will exit the position.  As pointed out by Tom Pelissero of USA Today, six of the other 11 spots on the Executive Committee also will be up for grabs at next month’s NFLPA meeting, due to player retirements.

Out will be Charlie Batch, Brian Dawkins, Scott Fujita, Matt Light, Brandon Moore, and Jeff Saturday.  Brian Waters also could be giving up his spot, if he chooses to retire from the NFL before then.

Only three players are locks to return:  Drew Brees, Matthew Hasselbeck, and Ben Watson.

“That’ll be one of the largest turnovers in the history of our league,” Smith told Pelissero.  “The challenge, frankly, for our young players and our young reps will be for them to find leaders to fill the shoes of guys like Brian Dawkins, to step into leadership roles like Domonique Foxworth, to be not only great superstars like Jeff Saturday, but leaders that are going to have a heart to fight for what’s right for players to come.”

The newly-reconfigured Executive Committee will have a major influence over whether Smith is retained in 2015, when his current contract expires.  Former player Sean Gilbert already has expressed an intention to run for the job; he was working the media center last week in New York, shaking (and unintentionally crushing) hands and talking about his views for the future of the union.

Smith has the built-in advantage of recruiting new Executive Committee members who will be favorable to him in 2015, but those new appointees (as elected by the individual team representatives) will inevitably be lobbied by Gilbert and any other interested candidates.

The pool of challengers to Smith could include Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, who recently tiptoed around rumors that he’ll be running for executive director during a visit to Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.

“Even a player or two asked me about that during the Super Bowl,” Brooks said.  “You know, if it comes to fruition, I’ll explore it, if it’s something that gets really serious but right now [I’m] just trying to be the best president G.M. of the Tampa Bay Storm at this particular moment.  So for the immediate future that’s what I’m doing and if that door opens up down the line I’ll see if that’s something that’s worth exploring.”

(Yep.  He’s interested.)

Before Brooks can throw his bronzed hat into the ring, the NFLPA will elect the men who’ll serve as the leadership of the NFLPA through and beyond the moment at which Smith’s job goes up for a vote.  While there’s currently a sense that the players intend to stick with Smith, Gilbert and Brooks and anyone else who chooses to run has a full year to rouse the rabble.