As Sean Gilbert attempts to unseat DeMaurice Smith as the executive director of the NFL Players Association, he’s telling players that Smith has cost them money. A lot of money.
By Gilbert’s estimation, Smith’s decision to agree to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement at the end of the 2011 lockout will cost the players a cumulative $10 billion by the time the CBA has expired. Gilbert says that the players erred by hiring Smith — a lawyer, not a football player — to run their union. And Gilbert says now the players need to hire him — a former Pro Bowl defensive tackle — to run the union.
“We have a $10 billion problem from the 2011 CBA,” Gilbert wrote in an open letter circulated today. “I believe it can be attributed to DeMaurice Smith’s lack of institutional football knowledge. Smith is a lawyer. He is a litigator, not a businessman. He has no background in football. Gene Upshaw was not a lawyer. He was a former player. During Upshaw’s time leading the union, the salary cap increased every year. When the NFLPA hired a litigator with no institutional football knowledge, the cap went down for three straight years. Since Smith took over, owners didn’t just roll back the cap. They slashed it.”
Gilbert portrays Smith as being out-maneuvered by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, taking money out of the players’ pockets in the process. If Smith wants to keep his job, he’d better be prepared to show the players that Gilbert is wrong.