Cyrus Mehri

League Notes: Goodell, Anti-Tampering, Mexico, NFLPA

The issues regarding the current Roger Goodell contract negotiations have been well documented over the past few months. From problems stemming from power over the league to the notable grievances Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has brought up throughout the process, the efforts towards a deal have not been without a lot of public mud throwing. However, a deal is still expected to be reached during or right before the Owners Meeting kick off in Dallas on December 13, according to sources talking to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.

Schefter also adds that attempts to delay the contract agreement has dissipated “meaningfully”, according to one league source. There’s always been a belief that ultimately both sides would agree on the terms, it was more of a question of when those final talks would take place. The insider relays that Goodell is expected to be paid up to $40 MM a year from 2019-2023 if all his bonuses come to fruition. This would make the commissioner a whopping $200 MM if these reported numbers are correct. The reported base salary would still be in the single-digit million dollar range, but his extra compensation would push his pay up to those higher-end rates.

It remains to be seen what type of impact this public dispute will have on Goodell’s power in terms of moving forward even after a deal is reached, but that’s probably a separate issue for the commissioner who’s looking to maintain his hold on the league for another five years.

  • Schefter also passed along that the NFL sent out a league-wide email last week reminding teams of new anti-tampering rules in regards to general manager interviews. The new rules allow for less strict guidelines for potential interviews for candidates on opposing teams. Schefter notes that one of the changes allows for teams to interview people even if they have control of their current team’s 53 man roster during the interview process. A anonymous NFL executive told Schefter that the new rules will have a “big impact” on front office movement during the offseason. While fans are used to seeing team personnel changes every year, this new adjustment should increase the amount of rumors that swirl in terms of what front office executives will be coming and going from franchises across the league.
  • Today, the NFL and the Mexico Ministry of Tourism announced a new deal that will keep the league playing in Mexico from 2019-2021. The NFL’s Vice President of Football Communications Michael Signora posted a tweet of the agreement, which states that there will be a regular season game played in Mexico City for the next three years after the current contract ends next season. The move clearly indicates that the league is still looking to maintain and even gain more of a presence internationally. The Raiders have played in both contests in Mexico so far, so you would think that the NFL will continue to give international fans a chance to keep seeing them even after they relocate to Las Vegas.
  • In NFLPA news, a former challenger of current head of the union DeMaurice Smith, attorney Cyrus Mehri is being open about his concerns with how the organization is being run. Apparently, Mehri sent a report to players across the league accusing Smith of spending “excessive” amounts of money on legal fees in order to fight off challengers, including himself, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post. Maske reports that the remarks from Mehri stated that the Players Union spent over $113 MM in legal fees when a league like the NBA was only spending about $1.5 MM in a similar amount of time. While Smith did end up holding onto his current job, this news opens up questions about some of the inner workings of the union under the control of Smith. We’ll see what defense the NFLPA comes out with because they have yet to comment on this situation and they will likely need to address these shady reports if Smith hopes to stand on firmer ground with his players in the months to come.

 

Cyrus Mehri Plans To Contest DeMaurice Smith’s NFLPA Re-Election

The NFLPA decided to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith, amending the union’s constitution from holding another election. Smith attained the job in 2009 and won elections in 2012 and 2015. This week’s unanimous vote — one featuring Richard Sherman, Adam Vinatieri, Dolphins long snapper John Denney and free agent center Ryan Wendell as four of the 14 voters — put the kibosh on Cyrus Mehri‘s hopes of challenging Smith in a 2018 election.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reports Mehri wrote a letter to NFLPA president Eric Winston and the executive committee Thursday indicating he still intends to press the league’s 32 player reps for a formal spring election.

Basically, I’m going to tell player reps, ‘Look, you were robbed of this ability to control your own destiny. You’re only going to get good things from competition. You can have a competition if you stand up and say you want it,’” Mehri said, via Volin. “The players that I talked to loved the ideas that I had. If we can organize the player reps to call for an election, it will happen.”

The co-founder of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that brought the Rooney Rule to the league, the 56-year-old Mehri told Volin the NFLPA didn’t post the new constitution on its website until August. Upon informing Winston at an August dinner about his plans to challenge Smith for the post, the would-be challenger didn’t come away pleased with the response.

Winston said Mehri “didn’t do his homework” about the changes, instead making his pursuit like a public campaign. The NFLPA, per Volin, did not want another “free-for-all” like what occurred in 2015, when Smith fended off eight others vying for the executive director job. This led to the 14-member vote this week.

At the end of the dinner Eric mentioned to me, ‘Well, they changed the process,’” Mehri told Volin. “They wanted to create the false impression that the election was in the spring. Meanwhile, they were just going to quietly have his contract renewed by some insiders.”

Mehri has already approached player reps about his crusade. Winston said earlier this week having full-on elections every three years would not be a good look for the union. Mehri appears to disagree.

I started talking to player reps, and a couple of things happened — they uniformly are in favor of competition, uniformly they feel I’m a legitimate candidate, and uniformly none of them remember signing off on changing the constitution,” Mehri said. “Which they must have done, but must have done in such a trickery way that they didn’t know what they were signing on to.

So I think there’s a scandal buried in this thing, because normally a constitutional change would be in neon lights, very vivid and open.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Winston On NFLPA Extending DeMaurice Smith

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith received a unanimous vote of confidence in being extended earlier this week. Smith’s term will run through at least 2021 and possibly longer. That year looms as a critical year for the NFLPA since the current CBA expires after the 2020 season.

NFLPA president Eric Winston discussed the decision to keep Smith in his current post, rather than open that position up to an outside challenger in March.

Is that the way Apple does it?” the recently released tackle said of the prospect of a full-scale election process (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “Does Apple open up for their CEO spot? Does Tim Cook have to run against someone every three years? Does the Commissioner run against someone? Is that how the NFL does business? I think that’s silly.

I think there’s a time and a place for elections, but again, this isn’t a public office. And that’s sort of what we had three years ago, and guys overwhelmingly rejected that thought. … So I kind of reject the notion that there needs to be a street fight every three years or every four or five years to decide if we have the right guy. I don’t think that necessarily healthy for the union and I don’t think frankly that’s how good companies are run.”

Smith has served in this post since March 2009 and led the way toward hammering out the current CBA on which the league’s operating. He will now have a chance to negotiate the next one and has already proclaimed the ensuing agreement won’t be completed without a “significant” work stoppage.

Cyrus Mehri emerged as a top potential challenger to Smith, but the 14 members of the selection committee did not end up allowing him to make a legitimate push.

You’d have to ask them,” Winston said of the committee’s decision. “I mean obviously I know he ran as if this was a public campaign and frankly maybe he thought it was for whatever reason, but he didn’t do the homework and understand what the process was and how the process has changed. But obviously he didn’t move the needle with guys and frankly a lot of the things he said we’re going forward with already, so there wasn’t a lot of new criticism and what he said was a lot of what people said three years ago and that was kind of similarly rejected as well three years ago.”

As for if Smith had any role in manipulating the process to make sure it was harder to replace him? Winston shot that down quickly.

I think it’s a slap in the face when you start talking about that because … I can tell you De Smith has nothing to do with the resolution process,” Winston said. “He’s in the back, he offers his opinion when he’s asked and that’s it. The board, the executive committee, and the guys run the resolution process.

This was run through resolution so we had a committee, again we studied it all year and then guys decided what process was best for them. We ended up talking about this for an hour during meetings. Going back and forth, ‘OK, should it be unanimous? Should it not be unanimous? Should it be a two-thirds vote here?’”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Derwin James, NFLPA, Peterson

Lawyer Cyrus Mehri wants to dethrone DeMaurice Smith as the head of the NFL Players’ Association. If elected, he says revamping the league’s discipline policy will be one of the first items on his agenda to be tackled.

If I’m elected, in the first hundred days, I’m going to sit down with the commissioner and top brass and reform this discipline system, so we’ll have checks and balances for when the 2018 season starts up,” Mehri said at a town hall style meeting this week (via Charean Williams of PFT). “My guiding light is this: What’s best for the game? . . . I’ve taken the word ‘concessions’ out of the dialogue, and all we’re going to be talking about is what’s best for the game. What’s best for the game is to reform that system. What’s also best for the game is to dramatically improve the resources particularly at the club level to deal with and minimize and prevent from happening some of these off-the-field issues. Issues of DUIs. Issues of drug abuse. Issues of domestic violence that have kept players from playing, and they’re also human tragedies. So if we really redouble or triple the effort on that, to me, that’s something labor and management should be on the same page on, which is prevention of problems. That’s the difference between me and the incumbent, because the incumbent’s relationship is so poisonous and so contentious [with the NFL] that they can’t be problem-solving, but problem-solving is focusing on prevention of these issues.”

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Scouts see a future NFL superstar in Florida State safety Derwin James, NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread writes. James is only a sophomore, but talent evaluators are drooling over his freakish athleticism. One scout told Goodbread that James has the body type to play “about seven positions.” “I think if you take all the attributes of all the best ones, combine it into one, you’re getting close to Derwin,” FSU strength and conditioning coach Vic Viloria said. “He’s got strength like [Nigel] Bradham. He’s got the desire to chase the deep ball like [Lamarcus] Joyner, competitiveness like Jameis [Winston]. His ability to hit and be strong for a skill player is like Jalen [Ramsey]. … His acceleration is freakish; it’s that of a Devonta Freeman. … You can keep going down the list.”
  • NFL players are anxious for the day that their contracts will be fully guaranteed, as Dave Campbell of The Associated Press writes. “When you think about what we do for our organizations, the injuries and the pounding that we take, you would think that there would be more appreciation for your players,” Saints running back Adrian Peterson said. “It’s just so unfortunate when you think about the physicality and the toll that football takes on your body.” Naturally, this will be another major focal point for the NFLPA in its next round of CBA talks with the league. It’s hard to imagine players getting fully guaranteed deals, but it’s possible that they could have some improved injury protection.

Cyrus Mehri To Run For Top NFLPA Job

DeMaurice Smith says he wants to stay on as NFLPA chief beyond his current term. Apparently, he’ll have to fight to keep his position. Civil rights lawyer Cyrus Mehri tells HBO’s Bryant Gumbel that he will challenge Smith for leadership of the union in March 2018.

[RELATED: NFL To Extend Roger Goodell Through 2024]

The more I dug into this and saw how unfair the last CBA deal was, the more I felt I had to answer the call,” Mehri said (transcript via PFT). “The players went backwards economically in a massive way, and that’s hundreds of millions of dollars that were forfeited and De Smith gave the commissioner a blank check. ‘Dear Commissioner, you can do whatever you want on player discipline.’ Well, we’re gonna fix that.”

Mehri clearly has a bone to pick with Smith and he won’t be shy about highlighting his own strength’s over what he perceives to be weaknesses of Smith’s.

[I’m an] honest broker,” the lawyer said when asked what commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners would think of him. “Someone with integrity and someone who gets things done. I think I’ve earned their respect and that respect I’m gonna carry forward on behalf of the NFL players.”

There’s no indication that players are unhappy with Smith, so Mehri may be fighting an uphill battle as he attempts his takeover.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires in early 2021.