Former Vikings running back Robert Smith has been coy about his potential interest in the position of Executive Director of the NFL Players Association.
Most recently, he has suggested that he doesn’t want the job.
“It’s flattering,” Smith told Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, “but it’s really not the right time in my life.”
Though we’ve got no reason to not take Smith at his word, it’s hard not to at least wonder whether Smith is trying to heighten interest in his services by feigning disinterest.  At a time when we fully expect multiple candidates for the job to get down and dirty as they try to get their mitts on one of the biggest gigs in the business, the fact that Smith is reluctant to take the job could make people think he’s the right one for it.  (And, yeah, we’ve learned pretty much everything we know about human nature from watching Gladiator.  A hundred times.  OK, two hundred.)
And so until Smith makes an “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach”-style pronouncement, we’re not going to cross his name off our list of potential successors to the late Gene Upshaw.
Smith made another intriguing disclosure on Monday.  At a time when the list of candidates contains former players exclusively, Smith told Jensen that the NFLPA might be better served by pursuing a former Fortune 500 executive.  (There might be a few of them looking for work these days.)
“I want to see the best person in that position for the players, and that isn’t necessarily a former player,” Smith said.
We agree with Smith.  Though on one hand there’s likely a belief among many players that they can be led only by someone who has strapped on a helmet and taken and/or delivered more than a few hits, the reality is that the job entails an entirely different skill set.  Upshaw had it — if the players are going to insist on finding another player to do the job, the challenge will be to find a former player who possesses those same skills, too.
And that’s why Smith could be the right answer.  Even if he genuinely thinks the union could do better, the apparent decision to focus on former players could make Smith the best option.
Even if he’s not openly campaigning for the job.

13 responses to “SMITH SAYS NO TO NFLPA . . . OR DOES HE?

  1. Learn from the lesson the NHLPA had to learn with Alan Eagleson: don’t have outsiders running PLAYER associations.

  2. I heard Smith took some girl to dinner and it was last ‘high school’ cheap. She had to pay for her meal and then he rented a video to watch after the meal. Sounds perfect for corporate american.

  3. Florio just put his “Vote Smith for N.F.L.P.A. Player Rep” sign in his front lawn right next to his Obama Sign.

  4. Bruce Laird would be the best pick, he has led the fight for the crappy treatment that the old time retired players have received from the league & union.

  5. i think Smith is a good choice… he’s probably smarter than any other former player who still has his faculties, and he’s humble yet effective.
    i agree they shouldn’t limit themselves to former players, but why draw lines as to whether the director MUST be a former player or must NOT be? just interview anyone who is a candidate, regardless of whether they are a former player or not, and hire the best man for the job?

  6. They could always hire Lane Kiffin, although he’d need a golden parachute before he’d take the job.

  7. They would do just fine with a “civilian” as the head of the players association. MLB players is probably in the strongest union in all of sports and they’ve always been led by people who have never played the game. you want the best negotiator for the job, not someone who’s biggest qualification is that he played the game.

  8. I hope Smith does take the job. That way I wont have to put up with his “expert” analysis of college football on EPSN

  9. pea tear griffin,
    Unless Ken Lay pulls a Lazarus (he died before he went on trial for his part in the Enron debacle. Or as Emmmit would say “debacled”).

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