In a move that could be hazardous to his ongoing NFL employment efforts, free-agent safety Ryan Clark has been elected to the NFLPA’s Executive Committee. Clark, the player representative in Pittsburgh when the Steelers unanimously voted to reject the current labor deal, quickly could emerge as an aggressive voice of opposition to the status quo and/or any efforts by the league to change any of the many rules that relate to on-field and off-field discipline.
Clark also could become a valuable presence to any challengers to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who’ll be up for re-election in 2015. Multiple news items in recent weeks have pointed out that, while the members of the Executive Committee don’t vote on the executive director, “[t]he makeup of the executive committee is important because that’s the group that enforces the selection bylaws in the event there’s a challenge to the executive director seat.”
If there are any potential shenanigans (we’re not saying there will be) regarding efforts to “enforce the bylaws” in a way that shuts out a challenger, Clark seems like the kind of guy who will speak up — privately and publicly.
Because Clark opposed the current labor deal, he could be more inclined to support, for example, Sean Gilbert, who has said his first order of business would be to find a way to pull the plug on it. With none of the owners complaining about the current CBA and Clark looking for a new team, Clark’s enhanced role in the NFLPA could be held against him.
The other new members of the Executive Committee are Lorenzo Alexander (Cardinals), Zak DeOssie (Giants), Jay Feely (Cardinals), Mark Herzlich (Giants), Adam Vinatieri (Colts), and Scott Wells (Rams). Incumbents are Matt Hasselbeck (Colts), Brian Waters (free agent), and Benjamin Watson (Saints).
The election for executive director will in many ways be determined last this year, when each team elects its new player representative. Whoever has 17 of them on his or her side will be destined to win next March.