For the first time in decades, a sitting NFL Players Association executive director faces a challenge to his position. And while at least five challengers have emerged for the job, only two of them currently have the ability to challenge DeMaurice Smith.
The NFLPA Constitution requires candidates for executive director to secure written nominations from three voting (not alternate) player representatives. A voting player representative can nominate as many candidates as he wants.
Currently, only Sean Gilbert and Andrew Smith have received the sufficient number of nominations. The other candidates who have come forward — James Acho, John Stufflebeam, and Sean Morey — have three days to comply with the three-nomination requirement. Any other candidates who haven’t come forward likewise can get on the ballot with three nominations submitted by player representatives.
The nomination deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 5. It’s a simple process; the player representatives need to send an email to NFLPA president Eric Winston nominating the candidate.
On March 15, DeMaurice Smith will face Gilbert, Andrew Smith, and any other challengers who have been properly nominated by March 5. A simple majority of the 32 player representatives secures the election on the first ballot. If anyone has fewer than 17 votes, the top two square off.
Then, the NFLPA will continue with DeMaurice Smith for three more years or start fresh with a new executive director.
With so many candidates interested in the job, it becomes more amazing that Gene Upshaw held the position for so many years without a challenge. DeMaurice Smith won the position over three other candidates in 2009, and DeMaurice Smith was unopposed in 2012.
On one hand, the identity of the executive director doesn’t really matter because the current labor deal lasts through the end of the decade and beyond. On the other hand, the day-to-day work consists of pushing back against efforts by the NFL to infringe on player rights, as the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases have shown over the past few months.