NFLPA Exec Discusses CBA, Rice, Discipline

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was in Houston this week to meet with the Texans, as the team elected its union representatives — linebacker Brian Cushing, safety Quintin Demps, and center Ben Jones. During his visit to Houston, Smith spoke to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle about a few subjects of interest, so let’s round up the highlights….

On the Texans’ new player reps:

“All three of those guys are good, sharp guys. The core of our union is leadership from players, and we strive to find new leaders on each team in each locker room. The player reps are the guys who own the union. Every team needs strong representation. That helps me and it is important that every team has those guys in the locker room who have the respect of the men they work with every day. Brian, Quintin and Ben definitely fit that bill.”

On the CBA, and what issues need to be addressed:

“The reality is negotiations on the CBA never end. Two years ago, we came out with a new drug policy that was negotiated during the current term. We’ve already continued to negotiate whatever core issues there are. There’s a lot to talk about. We need a comprehensive improvement in workman’s compensation across the league. … We need to talk about the commissioner discipline issue, obviously. We haven’t had any real concrete discussions about that. We have had some discussions about stadium funding for Los Angeles. That’s something that was changed in the last collective bargaining agreement to have a more liberal system for stadium credits. That’s something they didn’t get. They have reached out about increasing credits for stadiums. I’m not sure we’re close to any sort of deal on that, but it shows the collective bargaining agreement isn’t written in stone. It’s something we’re constantly trying to work on and improve.”

On the fact that Ray Rice hasn’t been able to get a second chance:

“I believe in redemption. I’m troubled by the fact that no team has given him an opportunity to work out for them or meet with them. I think when a young person, any person, makes a mistake and atones for those mistakes, it’s our culture to give them another chance. I believe in forgiveness. I do think he deserves every opportunity to show he’s worthy of forgiveness. He made a mistake, an awful mistake and he’s paid an awful price. I do believe in the power of redemption. I do believe we tend to show our best when we forgive.”

On the issue of Roger Goodell handing out player discipline and overseeing appeals:

“I think we are better off obviously if the league and the union come to an agreement on commissioner discipline, whether it was Tom Brady or Greg Hardy or Adrian Peterson or Bountygate, the work we are able to accomplish when working together is always better than the work that results from when we are fighting each other. Right now, we’re at a place where if the owners want to get something done on commissioner discipline, it will get done. If they don’t, it won’t get done. We shouldn’t be in a world where we’re constantly fighting in the courts.”

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