Despite a crowded field that featured eight challengers, reigning executive director DeMaurice Smith was re-elected by the NFL Players Association last night in Hawaii by the league’s team player reps, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (via Twitter). The decision ensures that Smith gets another three-year term heading the NFLPA.
Outside of Smith, Jim Acho, Sean Gilbert, Robert Griffith, Rob London, Art McAfee, John Stufflebeam, Andrew Smith and Jason Belser were also vying for the union’s executive director position. Belser, who has worked under Smith as part of the NFLPA in recent years, was viewed as perhaps the strongest challenger.
Nonetheless, one executive committee member, veteran safety Ryan Clark, tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link) that the vote to re-elect Smith was unanimous on the first ballot. Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link) pushes back on that report, suggesting that the first vote wasn’t unanimous, with the player reps re-voting to exhibit solidarity. Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that Smith at least got the majority he needed for re-election during the first round of voting, so it wasn’t a contentious process.
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is widely considered to be more owner-friendly than player-friendly, which made Smith vulnerable to challengers. However, with nine candidates in the running for the position, the field may have been slightly diluted, pushing players to align themselves with the candidate they knew best, rather than rallying around another contender.
Smith’s candidacy may also have received a bit of a boost in the wake of some of the lucrative free agent contracts signed by players within the last several days.