NFLPA vote is, at its core, a referendum on the judgment of DeMaurice Smith

Getty Images

In a one-hour interview with NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, the full audio of which can be heard below, Smith addresses at length the proposed CBA — from the inception of the discussions to the negotiation process to his response to the various criticisms of the deal.

Along the way, Smith said that he’s “proud of the deal.” And while he’d later add that he won’t be making a specific recommendation to the rank and file as to whether they should vote for it, it’s clear from the conversation that Smith believes the CBA represents the best combination of size of slice (as to the NFL) and size of pie (as to total revenue, including most notably the TV deals) that could be negotiated.

Smith explanation of the CBA comes as the voting window has opened — and as plenty of players with name recognition (but not necessarily much of a role in the process of negotiating the deal) are speaking out against it. In a video posted on Thursday, for example, Texans receiver Kenny Stills makes it clear that he doesn’t share Smith’s pride in the package the players are considering.

Stills, who is not involved in union leadership, encouraged players to vote no, repeating vows made by other players to help younger players pay the bills during a work stoppage.

“We run the show,” Still says. “We run this league. . . . There is no league without the players. . . . Please vote no on this deal, and let’s get some people outside of the NFL’s web to negotiate a real deal for us. Something that we’re proud of. Something that will set up the next generation. And that’ll change the landscape of the NFL forever.”

Like so many of the other comments made on social media by players who didn’t roll up their sleeves and hammer out the proposed CBA, Stills doesn’t delve into specifics as to what he doesn’t like in the deal; instead, there’s simply a vague and persistent sense that (as others not involved in the process have expressed) the players should get more.

His suggestion that they should “get some people outside the NFL’s web to negotiate a real deal for us” is intriguing, to say the least. De Smith came from “outside the NFL’s web” and has served in his current role for more than a decade. He ultimately presided over the negotiations, and he struck a deal in which, as mentioned above, he takes pride.

He applied his skills, judgments, and experiences based on his prior career as a lawyer and, since 2009, as the head of the NFLPA. Thus, as the players deliberate and vote, they need to realize that their decision will be a reflection and at its core a referendum on the judgment of the man they’ve hired to put them in the best possible position.

This isn’t a plea to vote yes or no. The players need to decide what to do, and the decision may differ from player to player. Instead, this is a nuts-and-bolts, is-what-it-is assessment of the situation, because plenty of players still seem to think that the NFL has simply dropped its opening offer on the table on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. That’s simply not the case.

For more, check out the interview. Listen to the questions and the answers. However a given player feels about the deal, it will become clear that: (1) plenty of work has been put into the negotiations; (2) De Smith believes it’s the right time to do a deal; (3) he believes it’s the best deal to be gotten at this time; and (4) a rejection of the deal will plunge the NFLPA into a process that will entail unpredictably and, quite possibly in time, a deal that isn’t nearly as good.

Players who are willing to defer to his judgment will therefore vote yes. Players who aren’t will vote no. It’s that simple.

28 responses to “NFLPA vote is, at its core, a referendum on the judgment of DeMaurice Smith

  1. these players constantly want more money to do less work. they barely practice compared to previous years and it shows at the beginning of the season.

    if they hold out for more, I hope the owners play hardball, bump them back to 47%, and wait them out. you could get rid of every single player in the league, and in 3 years of drafts you’d have a pretty competitive league and wouldnt even care about not seeing any of these guys again. the league would recover, the billionaires would stay billionaires, and the majority of the current players would be broke.

  2. In fact, players are pawns and don’t “run” the NFL. Kenny Stills is wrong. What is it he objects too? What do the players who have come out against it object too? The 17th game?

    Several truths: It’s foolish to think the rich players will pay the bills for the less fortunate players……The NFL will lock them out and get new players and win just like before……the proposed CBA is tilted to already take care of the younger players and that’s why the older players are fighting against it.

  3. Can’t say that I blame Kenny Stills for dealing the way he does !! And there should be a clause that takes care of anybody who e we played in the NFL because with the rules changes these QBs can play far longer making huge money off the backs of all the real qbs who used to get murdered every play and get back up and keep it moving not just wait on a flag

  4. Wait them out indeed; the players can’t last without paychecks and everyone knows it…

  5. I love how these players who know nothing about negotiating contracts or probably even the specifics of this deal act like it is so horrible. They agreed to the last one and it sounds like this is much better. Do they expect the owners to give them 100% of the profits?

  6. I want to remind Still that there is no league without the owners’ deep pockets. You all could play flag football for free. You can be replaced and you can work for much less in a two bit league that has the competent level of play as a football team. I suggest Stills reacquaint himself with who has created this league and who has invested money so that these Cupcakes can be paid handsomely for a job that is essentially May through December – unless you are on a good team with competent management that built a franchise of winners. Or you can play for Washington and just cash a paycheck. But you won’t be a success.

    I fully support ending any offensive or defensive pass interference and let the players downfield mug each other. I’d like to see how long these players would last. That would knock the prima donna out of these fools.

  7. Very much like Le’Veon Bell Sitting out a year, the players will NEVER make the money back that they lose by going on strike. The majority of players will have larger pay checks with the new agreement. Anyone who listens to Kenny Stills will regret it.

  8. I’M CONFUSED, NFL players can’t live on 450k per year”or what ever the min. is they make”, and have problems paying rent?
    WELL TIME TO GET YOUR HEADS OUTTA THE SKY , and learn how to manage your finances and live within your range.
    There’s MILLIONS OF PEOPLE that are just barely getting by on 40k a year “IF THAT” that would LOVE to be in your shoes JUST ONCE.

    STOP THE CRYING AND LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY “or didn’t they teach you that in college”?

  9. The part about helping younger players to pay their bills if there is a work stoppage would last about five minutes. And I’m still waiting to hear one issue they have with it. Just one….

  10. First, you watch the NFL for its players and not the logo or the owners.

    Not exactly sure why you dismiss the sweetheart deals of the wonders on the taxpayer backs. Look at the Raiders, they bought some land for $6 mm, put a stadium next to it and just sold it for $192 mm.

    While I have not read every detail of the deal, the one that seems to stand out is to play the 17th game with a cap of $900k which is 10% of what the Top 10 QB’s make per game … or translated to us, the average working stiff, would you work 13 extra days (% increase of workload from 16 to 17 games) for 10% of your normal paycheck? Then why should NFL players?

    You know who is to blame for player salaries – YOU. That’s right, because you are willing to pay any price and keep watching the NFL, the money is there … AND all the taxpayer nitwits who vote to subsidize stadiums for billionaire owners. I agree that cities can/should build transportation stops or an exit and even LOAn a team money to build a stadium but NOT to just offer it for free or like Santa Clara suddenly realizes they signed a crappy deal … in CA, or like SD, we’re mostly not interested in just giving billionaires a free stadium.

    BUT, you watch the NFL for the players, not the coaches or the woners (though in Dallas, the fans seem happy just to lsiten to Jones).

  11. D Smith record is brutal, the last CBA gave the commissioner too much power (deflate-gate na dthe excessive player punishments like AP & RR, and ridiculously lopsided contracts that give younger players way less money than before. Yes it needed to be more balanced but its now so veteran heavy why would a young player want D Smith?

  12. Smith is gonna screw this CBA negotiation up just like he did last time, and then 10 years down the road the guys who are rookies/young players now are gonna make the same mistakes certain vets are now by bending over backwards for the owners. It’s a never ending cycle with this incompetently run NFLPA

  13. I couldn’t care less about the players o watch the nfl for my team. I want my team to be successful. This is a team game, 45 active players on game day and the working class stiffs of the league making significantly less than the top 200 players are getting a nice bump in this new cba and I like that.

    If stills and watt have a problem with the proposal let us know specifically what it is if you want to get the public on your side. Stills’ words mean jack squat to me because he isn’t part of the leadership that’s working hard on this cba. It’s easy to trash something you have no part of and have committed 0 time to, it’s an insult to his fellow union meme nerd who are trying their best to get the best deal for the rest of the players. But again he’s just another one of the top 200 paid players ( overpaid if you ask me) but whatever.

  14. De Smith record is the worst in sports. How he ended basically owning a union is repellent.

  15. DeMaurice Smith is a bust, he ran a 5.39 40 at the combine and only had a 24” vertical, undraftable

  16. NFL players should look at the last time MLB went out and it still has not come back to what it once was. Sometimes greed should be put behind you

  17. dean7979 says: “these players constantly want more money to do less work. they barely practice compared to previous years and it shows at the beginning of the season.”

    As someone that has watched football since the late 70’s, I can emphatically say today’s players are head over heels better prepared coming into Week 1 than your “glory days”.

    Today’s players are in shape 365 days a year, which REQUIRES MORE HARD WORK than getting lazy and fat in the summer that most players did in the 60s and 70s, and then needing two-a-days just to burn some of it off.

  18. HDTV is the owners worst nightmare. Let the $20 beers and the clear purses and on and on get processed though the window. The “FAN” experience is not what it used to be. At home I get to see multiple camera angles of a foul… at the stadium I sit like a clown waiting for some guy under a hood to tell me what happened. I could have taken a dump (with ni lines).. got a beer from the fridge and come back into the living room and still see replays… while in the stand i see nothing. Fan experience NFL? I don’t think so. A ten year old kid would tell you it’s better at home.

  19. Any League that is about to pay Dak Prescott $30 million plus to play qb needs it’s damn head checked!!!!!!!!!

  20. It’s funny now people who have never been involved in any kind of negotiation think they can just so, “Nope. Let’s go back and start over and we’ll get an even better deal.” Do they really think that just because they say “We want more,” they’ll get it? That’s not how negotiations work.
    If you don’t like this deal, by all means, vote against it. It’s your right and responsibility to do so. But to think that a new deal will somehow be better just because you want it to be is ridiculous.

  21. The owners could restart the league and set their own pay scale all over again and somebody would still come and play!

  22. Agree to the deal , in what other business in the entire world do the employees get to demand as much money as the owner? Total BS your getting paid to play a game!

  23. jbelkin says:
    March 5, 2020 at 6:31 pm
    First, you watch the NFL for its players and not the logo or the owners.
    I watch the NFL for the team. I went to my first NFL game in 1968 at Pitt Stadium, watched the Cardinals beat the Steelers. That is the year I became a Steelers fan. Kent Nix was the QB, Dick Hoak the main RB, Roy Jefferson the best WR. The Steelers were 2-11-1 that year, 1-13 the next, 6-9 the year after that. They have done OK since then, but not always. I had to suffer through Bubby Brister, but I still wore my black and yellow every game day.

    Players come and go, but the team remains. I watched every Steelers game this year (and attended one, as I always do) with guys named Duck and Mason playing QB, Benny Snell at RB, and Nick Vannett at TE. I’ll watch them this year, and next, no matter who is wearing the uniform.

    I don’t begrudge players trying to earn as much money as they can. Just don’t assume the game won’t go on without you. You don’t “run the league.” Talking to you, too, Mr. Stills.

  24. And these comments reflect why we have such a huge gap between the haves and have nots in this country. The greedy, destructive billionaires have convinced people to be happy with the few crumbs they give us. I hear people complain about a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage. I’ve heard family say McDonalds employees should not get 12 an hour. Meanwhile they do all the work and the people at the top get richer and richer. I’ll side with the players on this one. A bunch of guys who have worked their butts off to get here, most coming from middle class to poor upbringings VS owners who primarily inherited their fortunes and are making a killing on these players backs. Get every penny you can boys!

  25. There may be a vocal minority that are against deal.
    However, it’ll be the silent majority who decides this and will win the day.

  26. A couple of things here. First, it’s foolish to make any comparison between player salaries and what working stiffs make. Pro sports are entertainment. It’s an industry where people make lots of money. The players aren’t “greedy”, they are trying to get a fair deal.

    Just because a person’s profession pays them a lot of money doesn’t mean they shouldn’t seek the best deal they can get. To think otherwise is foolish. The players are the face of the league, they play a dangerous game with an average career of 4 years. They get paid a lot of money because the NFL brings in lots of money.

    Having said that – the high-profile players who don’t bother to get involved in the union and haven’t participated in the negotiation process shouldn’t be speaking up now – it’s a little late for that. We don’t know all the details of what has gone on, but I’m sure the union has polled players about what is important to them and what the next CBA would (hopefully) look like.

    The owners have the power, for the most part, and from what we’ve heard the proposed CBA is better than the last one. The only power the players have is that the NFL can’t negotiate new TV deals until the CBA is in place. No one is gonna pay big bucks only to have a work stoppage.

    It sure feels like the communication between the union leadership and players is lacking somewhere. OR…the fact that the players are generally 20 somethings who disappear around this time of year to enjoy their time off just means many of them aren’t paying attention. I know when I was in my 20s I thought I knew everything but was pretty damn irresponsible.

    It’s always shocking to me how much resentment toward the players is expressed on here. I don’t begrudge them anything they can earn. They deserve it if they can play in the NFL because that’s what the NFL market is. The NFL market is an entirely different world than working a regular job. There is no comparison. It’s like comparing yourself to Tom Cruise and complaining about his life. It makes no sense because it’s a different reality.

    I hope the players show some sense and agree to the CBA. And, like others have said, the idea of wealthier players supporting young guys will last a few weeks, at most.

  27. Well Kenny (and everyone else who opposes the deal), you always have the option of not being paid millions to play a game and instead could fall back on that college education to get a real job. Wonder how that would go.

  28. I was surprised DeMaurice Smith wasn’t replaced after the last CBA fiasco.
    Dee Smith missed important details that angered and disadvantaged players in the last CBA.
    The Veterans know that,… the younger guys don’t. All they see is MONEY $$$$$

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.