Former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert has made it clear he plans to go on the offensive against NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
Next March, Smith’s position will be up for a vote, and Gilbert plans to run.
Gilbert launched his campaign with The $29 Million Tip, a small, softcover book that takes the position the players got the short end of the 2011 labor deal. He intensified his efforts by making the rounds at Radio Row last month in New York, in the days preceding Super Bowl XLVIII.
More recently, Gilbert went to the Scouting Combine. Gilbert tells Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal that he met with 25-to-30 agents during his time in Indianapolis.
Gilbert continues to argue that the CBA is too friendly to management. “Even if the owners had the leverage, it doesn’t mean you have to give back everything,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert, who once sat out an entire year in a contract dispute, also explained to Mullen that he has a plan for pulling the plug on the current CBA.
“The way I see this, it’s not a 10-year deal,” Gilbert said, referring to the stated term of the agreement.
Gilbert didn’t explain how that would happen. Presumably, he believes there’s language in the CBA that permits an argument, based on the applicable facts, that the deal should be scuttled. Obviously, it would be an aggressive position to take. If successful, it could set the stage for a work stoppage.
Before he’ll ever be in position to make that specific push, he’ll need to win the March 2015 election. In that regard, the key event on the NFLPA calendar isn’t the replacement of up to eight members of the Executive Committee next month in Orlando. The battle for NFLPA executive director largely will be won when the various teams elect their player representatives later this year.
With 32 teams, Gilbert will need only 17 votes to win the job. If he can get 17 players who would vote for him to successfully run for the player rep positions on their respective teams, Gilbert can win the job.
If he does, we’d presumably learn at that time a lot more about how he plans to shorten a labor deal that, to date, has been very favorable to the owners — as evidenced by the fact that none of them are complaining about it.