Russell Okung declares his candidacy for NFLPA president

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As expected, Chargers left tackle Russell Okung has become the first player to throw his hat into the ring for the position of NFL Players Association president.

Okung officially disclosed his candidacy to Ken Belson of the New York Times.

An opponent of a 17-game season, Okung’s election — if it happens before the finalization of a new labor deal — could set the process back to square one or close to it. Currently, the NFL and NFLPA are negotiating a contract based on a 17-game regular season. As one source explained it earlier this month to PFT, if the 16-game season were continuing, an agreement already would be completed.

Okung not only wants to push hard against 17 games but also desires to take a more combative approach to the relationship with league owners.

“Are we in an equitable agreement with management?” Okung told Belson. “Right now, the answer is no. This will take as long as it needs to.”

It’s unclear whether Okung’s candidacy will gain traction. The clock is ticking, and he’ll need to, at a minimum, get players who may soon be voting on a new CBA to press pause until after the election.

“I expect more, and I’m not willing to be bashful about saying that,” Okung said. “I’ve made it really clear we need to exhaust every single opportunity we have in order to put our players in a better situation to take care of themselves, their families and to protect the future of this game.”

The article announcing Okung’s candidacy makes no mention of the ugliness that has emerged between Okung and the NFLPA, with the union finding based on an independing investigation that Okung, a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, had gathered and disseminated confidential information in violation of union rules. The union proposed no specific action against Okung as punishment for the infraction. Okung denies any wrongdoing.

Whether it’s Okung or someone else, a new president will be elected in March. Current president Eric Winston is not eligible to run again, because he has not played in the last two seasons.

20 responses to “Russell Okung declares his candidacy for NFLPA president

  1. Just wish he didn’t come off as sketchy and conniving in recent years. At one point he seemed to be a smart, forward thinking player.

  2. The problem is and has been D.Smith he’s the guy that negotiated the last bad deal, and he’s the guy thats flung to deliver another bad deal to the players

  3. Michael E says:
    January 26, 2020 at 7:08 pm
    Unions need to be eradicated from society.


    Oh, so I guess you are in favor of going back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s when workers were treated like animals, huh? And I guess you’re in favor of them having to work 12 hour days with barely enough pay to survive, and using child labor, too, huh?
    Geesh!!! What a dumb comment!!
    I nominate you for the Dumbest Comment Of The Year Award on this site.

  4. I don’t know how bad a negotiator he is — he’s earned nearly 100 Million bucks so far…

  5. This is a guy who will not get elected. Most NFL players aren’t going to play 10 years, and they’re not going to make $100 million. 90% of all NFL players get hurt financially if there is a strike. And it’s also those same players who are the easiest to replace with strike breakers, and would possibly lose their jobs after the strike gets settled. Each individual player has to look out for his own family. Let the voting begin!

  6. What is unusual about the union is that players are also free to negotiate as independent contractors, while having union protections, etc. Anywhere else but pro sports where players get union protections/benefits but individually negotiate contracts?

  7. Players aren’t totally stupid. They know that if they go on strike, they lose out on millions of dollars that they’ll never get back. Careers in the NFL are short, and going on strike makes them even shorter.

  8. Okung would be a LOT better off if he would have concentrated more on protecting Philip Rivers blind side…..

  9. He did little to protect Philip Rivers last season. Injured all the time riding the “NFL gravey train.”

  10. Many players say they oppose 17 game seasons. This vote will show how much players will oppose it. Seems like the current union leaders will sign off on the 17 games.

  11. How did De Smith negotiate a bad contract? Players are making a ton of money. HOw exactly is Okung unable to take care of his family? He earned $109,249,999 in his career, how exactly is he in a bad situation? Unions are not needed in professional sports.

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