De Smith Creates A Key Position For An NFLPA Outsider

As the long-term status of entrenched NFLPA executives continues to remain unclear, the notion that new Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will be reluctant to shake things up has taken a major blow.
According to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal, who spotted the announcement on the NFLPA’s web site, Smith has hired George Atallah to serve in the newly-created position of Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs.
Given the clumsily formal title and Atallah’s background in public relations, it appears to us that Smith is essentially demoting Communications Director Carl Francis, without actually demoting him.
Basically, Atallah will have Smith’s ear — and likely will be Smith’s voice — on all matters falling with the scope of “external affairs.”  The union’s relationship with the media will surely be a major part of Atallah’s jurisdiction.
The move shouldn’t come as a complete shock.  Shortly after Smith was hired, he issued a statement regarding an NFLPA-related issue not through Francis’ department, but via Atallah.
That said, Atallah’s experience doesn’t make him a natural fit for his new job.  Here’s a portion of his bio, from the Qorvis Communications web site:  “George Atallah joined Qorvis Communications in 2006.  His extensive professional experience constitutes financial services, non-profit organizations, international affairs, government and politics.  Atallah works primarily on the firm’s international clientele, with an expertise in the field of U.S.-Arab relations.  Qorvis relies on Atallah to develop media relations and crisis communications strategies, and to implement corporate communications strategies across various sectors.  Prior to joining Qorvis, he was with Fahmy Hudome International, a government relations and strategic consulting firm in DC, specializing in international affairs and the energy sector.”
Needless to say, his new job will be much different.  And the selection of Atallah notwithstanding his experience suggests to us that Smith plans to fully utlize the time-honored spoils system when it comes to hiring his lieutenants.
The move also suggests that there will be other “Assistant Executive Director of [insert made-up title encompassing work that someone else on the payroll already is doing]” hires in the future.  This also means that, instead of having a true No. 2, Smith will essentially have a cabinet of “Assistant Executive Directors” who will serve as the immediate supervisors of the folks who used to report directly to Gene Upshaw.

8 responses to “De Smith Creates A Key Position For An NFLPA Outsider

  1. sounds an awful lot like the chosen one’s qualifications to be president. that didn’t seem to upset you much, so i don’t know why this much less important position would.

  2. Okay, the NLFPA is not a personal ATM to pay off your friends. Upshaw used the union to enrich himself at the expense of players — especially retired players. Now the new guy seems to be doing the same thing. How about the ED concentrate on doing his job, not how much money he can make?

  3. Florio,
    You sound like its a problem man…..LOL well you know more then me since you are older then me that in coporate america when a new executive comes into a company he sometimes shakes up the ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE….You agree???? I see that as what he is doing…Typically when a NEW leader comes in he wants his own chiefs….as a Lawyer Im sure you know all about this……LOL…Non story

  4. I think this has to do with your piece a few weeks back, about how Smith isn’t handling very well being in the limelight. I think he made this up so he doesn’t have to deal with anything outside, i.e. media, himself.

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