De Smith has four challengers for NFLPA position

Four weeks from yesterday, the NFLPA’s board of player representatives and Executive Committee will convene in Hawaii for their annual meeting.  When they arrive, the primary task of the player representatives will be electing an executive director.

In the end, the 32 player representatives will determine the outcome, with the candidate who secures a simple majority of 17 winning the job.

Six years after DeMaurice Smith won the job in a four-way contest between Smith, Troy Vincent, Trace Armstrong, and David Cornwell, Smith currently faces a quartet of challengers:  James Acho, Sean Gilbert, Andrew Smith, and John Stufflebeam.  The NFLPA has now posted platforms for the four challengers at the union’s website.

The candidacy of Gilbert, a former NFL defensive lineman, has been known for months.  His book, The $29 Million Tip, has been distributed to players throughout the league in the hopes of persuading them to elect him to supplant Smith.

Gilbert’s platform hasn’t changed.  He contends that the 2011 labor agreement has shifted billions of dollars from the players to the owners, and his 24-point plan continues to reiterate termination of the current agreement via a collusion case.  Gilbert also wants minimum salaries of $1 million for all players, the elimination of two preseason games, a one-time limit on the ability of a player to be restricted by the franchise tag, free agency after three years, limitations on Commissioner power, and consideration of an 18-game regular season.

Acho, a Michigan lawyer, submitted his platform with a cover letter that expresses his reluctance to submit a platform and that acknowledges his “long shot” status.  Acho cites endorsements from the NFL Alumni Association and Gridiron Greats, which may not actually be a good thing, given inherent differences between the objectives of current and former players.

Acho’s platform advocates among other things long-term healthcare benefits for all retired players, elimination of OTAs, adoption of an 18-game regular season, retention of four preseason games, and the adoption of an independent, in-house assistance board for retirees in need.

“I do not golf, fish, hunt, ski, play fantasy sports, video games or cards,” Acho writes.  “What I do is protect the interests of employees, and I assure you I will do just that for all NFL players, current and former.”

Smith, a Philadelphia lawyer, says that he has acted for the past seven years as a legal advisor to an unnamed NFL team, “handling legal issues for its Players and their familiar and interacting with the Press, Media and NFL league personnel.”  He notes being featured on TV and radio and being quoted by multiple media outlets, with TMZ being the first one listed.

Smith’s platform vows to “re-organize, redirect and TRANSFORM the NFLPA to meet its original purpose and vision of representing, protecting and defending active and former NFL players.”  He contends that the NFL has “concealed the true revenue and profitability of the league,” and that he will work to identify every avenue of revenue and require distribution of all streams to players.  Smith suggest that 100 percent of the salary cap should be spent by all teams, that all athletic trainers should be “part of the NFLPA,” and that the players should consider an 18-game regular season.

Smith contends that the last two executive director have been “out-matched, over-powered and under-prepared to fight the NFL and its owners.”

“I have taken on and DEFEATED big businesses,” Smith writes.  “I have personally out-litigated huge national law firms.”

Stufflebeam is a former NFL player — and he rose to the rank of three-star admiral in the Navy.  He primarily advocates transforming the organization from a focus on confrontation to cooperation.  The bulk of his submission addresses on his experiences and credentials for the job, but it contains few details about how he would actually perform it.

“I trust these words give you a sense of who I am and what I stand for,” Stufflebeam writes.  “I hope you feel me.  I am ready and passionate in answering this calling to server you.  As you consider who you should vote for Executive Director, I ask you to consider not the lists of ‘what we want’ that are in our platforms, but the ‘how’ will we get the job done.”

Next month, the player representatives will get the job done of determining who their Executive Director will be.  Either the guy who did the job for the last six years will keep the job, or someone else will get a chance to take over.

46 responses to “De Smith has four challengers for NFLPA position

  1. DeSmith has been a spineless jellyfish as the head of the NFLPA.

    He has repeatedly allowed Goodell to unilaterally modify the CBA which he does not have the authority to do.

  2. Gilbert was the kid running for class president and promising no homework, 2 hour lunch, and elimination of all tests.

  3. What is it with the 18 game season ? Specifically, how is that a selling point to the players ?

    As a fan, I hate the idea of 18 games. This will dilute the season. Bad idea.

  4. bmoreb says:
    Feb 15, 2015 9:35 AM
    What is it with the 18 game season ? Specifically, how is that a selling point to the players ?

    As a fan, I hate the idea of 18 games. This will dilute the season. Bad idea.

    _________________

    When a regular season game is played, a player gets a check

    When a pre-season game is played, the player gets nothing

    They are going to have to play the game either way, why not play a few more of the ones they get paid? That’s really all there is to it

  5. 18 game schedule is the dumbest idea ever. Sure it means more revenue short term, but if you have teams falling apart at the end of the year or the playoffs, it is going to hurt the popularity of the game.

  6. De Smith is a joke, has been since had the job

    I can’t believe a majority of players would be dumb enough to vote for Gilbert and his “scorched earth” plan

    Andrew Smith is a joke. I’ve actually had a few occasions to work with him when I was working in the legal field. He’s in it to make himself famous, and rich. That’s it

    Acho, IMO, clearly has the best plan for the players long term benefit. The question becomes if they care about long term. Most of them care about right now

    Stufflebeam I don’t know much about. But how can you not like a guy who played in the NFL, so clearly joined the Navy later in life (comparatively), and still rose to a 3 star admiral….that’s some impressive stuff. But if I’m a player, I need more details on what he actually wants to do. “Cooperation over confrontation” flies in the face of any union I’ve ever dealt with.

  7. Reduction in OTA’s is what has led to increased torn ACL’s and other injuries in the past couple of years. Elimination of OTA’s altogether would really be a disaster in terms of player injuries. Not all players have the same work ethic when they have to do it on their own. They should go back to more OTA’s, not less…

  8. “They are going to have to play the game either way, why not play a few more of the ones they get paid? That’s really all there is to it”

    No that’s not all there is to it. By reducing the preseason you reduce the time that coaches have to install systems and get rookies and FAs up to speed.

    Since it seems at least half a dozen teams change head coaches in most off seasons, a longer season-shorter preseason basically dooms any team that got a new head coach to failure.

    Two games is not enough time to properly evaluate rookies, its not enough time to install your systems, its not enough for veterans to settle into a new system if they changed teams, it totally screws any team that has a new head coach.

    The result is going to be horribly played games and teams that get so far down in the standings so quickly that its going to ruin the level of play.

  9. I really thought De Smith would be good for the players. However, he’s been proven to be incompetent.
    18 game season…please don’t agree to this.

  10. The players may be getting eighteen checks per season rather than sixteen with an expanded regular season, but they’ll be smaller checks. In the end, it’ll be a wash on the money side with two extra games on the wear-and-tear side. Downside for the players.

  11. I’d pick Stufflebeam. The owners will respect him and bend more willingly to his wishes. These billionaire owners willingly give away $millions to charity all the time. They’re just not used to being told what to do. You’ll lose every time if you try to fight them. Cooperate, don’t confront.

  12. With Sean Gilbert at the helm, we could expect a fat new labor strike — and much little player loyalty to the team/city they were drafted by. As a fan, I do NOT want him in there. As a player, I don’t like him either. He was another guy who played only for the cash, and once he got big contracts — he then got fat, lazy and unproductive. He was all about how much money he could get for himself, and he sounds like he’s no different now.

    Andrew Smith sounds just as bad.

    Of the new challengers, James Acho and John Stufflebeem as honest, comparatively humble and reasonable men who seek to earnestly advocate on behalf of the current players.

    Of Acho, I dug in particular that he made a point to look out for the retirees in need. It’s about time someone voice support for a lot of those old guys — because most of the new players just want as much $$$ as they can get for themSELVES.

    And what was notably cool about Stufflebeem is he didn’t overly hype himself into the stratosphere — plus he made a key point: it’s easy to talk about WHAT ONE WANTS — but the devil is in the HOW DO WE DO IT end of the equation. That shows a realistic practical perspective.

    Of course, we could get more DeSmith, but of the four challengers discussed above, Gilbert and Smith are BAD news to the game we love. These people tend to be divisive and destructive.

    Acho and Stufflebeem present superior options by just coming off as less full of bluster and ego, and as more reasonable, measured and practical.

    Just my nickel’s worth.

  13. harrisonhits2 says:
    Feb 15, 2015 10:32 AM
    “They are going to have to play the game either way, why not play a few more of the ones they get paid? That’s really all there is to it”

    No that’s not all there is to it. By reducing the preseason you reduce the time that coaches have to install systems and get rookies and FAs up to speed.

    ______________

    Decent point, but makes no sense. Why do players care if FA’s have enough time to get up to speed? That’s a problem for the coaches, not the players. Why do the players care if the coaches feel like they have enough time to evaluate? They care about how much money they are making, not about how the NFL’s coaches feel about it

    It would just lead to more practices that have two teams (Pats and Eagles have done it the last few years), which are more competitive

  14. Stufflebeam would be the best choice based on what I have seen. He wants to collaborate with the owners and that will ultimately get the players more of what they want. If they continue to fight everything they are going to stress over losing often. The union needs to stop looking at a comparison between the guys that play and the guys that provide them the opportunity they have. Roughly 1600 workers share approximately 5-7 billion dollars annually. The lowest level guys that barely make the team are paid a minimum of $400,000. As long as they do well enough to make a team and they follow simple rules and laws they really don’t have much to complain about. They are not oppressed by ‘the man’ and they have one of the premium occupations in the country. They need to start looking at what they have rather than at what they mistakenly feel they deserve.

  15. The Sean Gilbert plan is simple… “I promise you will get more, for doing less. Elect me.” Go ahead. When you are locked out, have no money, and your house is repo’d, you can get a job at WalMart.

  16. Corporate America scum of the earth. I work for a S&P 500 company .I have worked for them for fifteen years . I tore my ACL and MCL away from work .I have been on disability for months. The disability is 50 percent of what unemployment is . To top it off they didn’t pay me for thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years holidays . I could have lied and claimed my injury at work but I didn’t big mistake on my part. I have worked since I was sixteen now laid up and receive pretty much nothing for being honest from a multi billion dollar company with huge profits CEO makes over 20 million a year plus stock options ..They cry poverty every contract .

  17. Anybody in support of an 18-game season should be stripped of their candidacy right off the bat… RIDICULOUS idea!

    I like Gilbert’s plan, but he’s apparently a dreamer. Never happen. But reach for the stars, big guy!

    Stufflebeam… What? Yes, words are superfluous and I want action plans too, but what are you gonna do? Why should people vote for you?

  18. Gilbert makes De Smith look like a viable player rep. 1M min salary for all players. Football will be on strike permanently. Its simple math. The more you give to those who don’t deserve, the less you can give to those who do.

  19. If I’m in that league I’m burning up about the NFL having every advantage over those that play for them. No guaranteed salaries, you’re forced by the NFL to play 5 years, during your physical prime before being paid, and the NFL profits off your hard labor by paying you pennies.

    If I can play baseball and football, to heck with the NFL and their no guaranteed contracts!

    This NFL hiding its profits from the NFLPA needs to be explored. What say you Florio, why not get busy on that?

  20. Finally we may be seeing the NFLPA get off its”bite-its-nose-to-spite-its-face” mode regarding extension of the season.

    De Smith overplayed his hand during the CBA negotiations of 2011. Mouthpiece jocks such as Drew Brees and Ray Lewis cried crocodile tears about substituting two real games for two of the absurdly priced & mandatory exhibition games. That would have resulted in expansion of the TV contracts, i.e. more revenue to be split with the owners. The NFL called their bluff by taking the 18-game season off the table — now smarter union guys are coming to the realization that extending the season by reducing the exhibition scam would benefit owners, players, and most fans (although some fans would grumble about the weather if it’s 70 degrees, low humidity, and clear).

    Here’s what should happen: 17 games (8 home, 8 road, 1 neutral) with two bye weeks and two exhibitions (one each home & away). Rotate the neutral games among a pool of wannabe NFL cities (London, Toronto, Mexico City, Portland, San Antonio), cities about to lose theirs (Oakland and St Louis), and cities which don’t have a chance at future franchises but can stage a game, e.g. Honolulu, Salt Lake, Columbus, Frankfort, Tokyo, Sydney, Paris. Start the season in mid-August with night games and emphasizing the neutral sites. Schedule the byes alongside games played overseas. Sell the exhibitions at 1/4th price, and prohibit mandatory purchase requirement across the league.

    Two additional weeks of TV plus expanded interest outside of the US would add multi-billions to the NFL coffers, enabling some of the other Union demands/requests such as the $1 million minimum.

  21. De Smith talked loud and talked a good one, like he was going to “do” something when he got the job. Well he did – he rolled over for Goodell. All he does is yell.

  22. I buy NFL tickets and watch games on TV.

    Gilbert wants much more player movement between teams and higher pay. That means higher ticket prices and less continuity of teams.

    What NFL would want that? The owners’ interests are much more aligned with my interests.

    If ticket prices rise and there is much more free agency and player movement I’ll spend my entertainment time and dollars elsewhere.

  23. To conserve page space, the four challengers will simply be referred to as “1”, “2”, “3”, and “4”, hereafter. Until it is no longer necessary to mention them.

  24. The NFLPA needs someone who is not just going to be anti-NFL. The NFL is their employer. The union needs to take care of the players on issues other than the CBA. All these DUI’s and with the players distrust of the NFL, why hasn’t the NFLPA implemented a program where players call and get free rides home. Where are the union’s programs on fiscal responsibility, life after the NFL, continuing education,etc. CBA should only be part of their responsibilities. Guess its just easier to blame others, than really look in the mirror and say you aren’t doing squat.

  25. A 12 game season went to 14 to 16 and soon to 18. The same hold true of playoff–8 teams went to 12 soon to 14 teams and since they make so much more $$$ with a 14 team playoff, 16 teams will be even better.

  26. mshawn75 says:
    Feb 15, 2015 11:59 AM
    The Sean Gilbert plan is simple… “I promise you will get more, for doing less. Elect me.” Go ahead. When you are locked out, have no money, and your house is repo’d, you can get a job at WalMart.

    _______________

    Put that way, it’s not the worst plan. Our President was elected twice on the same platform

  27. The NFLPA needs someone who is not just going to be anti-NFL. The NFL is their employer. The union needs to take care of the players on issues other than the CBA. All these DUI’s and with the players distrust of the NFL, why hasn’t the NFLPA implemented a program where players call and get free rides home. Where are the union’s programs on fiscal responsibility, life after the NFL, continuing education,etc. CBA should only be part of their responsibilities. Guess its just easier to blame others, than really look in the mirror and say you aren’t doing squat.
    ——
    Players are given an 800 number that provides rides to players whether they’re drunk, car brakes down, etc. I think the union pays the cost.

    In the news, you hear about the players who make bad choices and not use that number.

  28. check stufflebeam’s navy background , and why he was fired as an admiral.

    i think his ethics and integrity appear questionable.

  29. Gilbert wants to undo a CBA that already exists based on his opinion and little else. He was a medicre player and would actually make the NFL look reasonable. Hard to get excited about a bunch of millionaires chasing after more money.

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