It sounds like DeMaurice Smith‘s future status as the NFL Players Association’s executive director may be more secure than initially thought. With the standard voting expected in March, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that the NFLPA is has revamped the election process, which would seemingly make it easier for the incumbent to retain their position.
By mid-October, a 14-member selection committee will vote on whether they should extend Smith’s contract. If the vote is unanimous, Smith will keep his job. If seven-to-13 of these members approve this move, then the vote will be moved to the board of player representatives (which includes members of every NFL team). If 21 (“two-thirds” of the grouping, technically) of these players approve, then Smith maintains his job.
An election for the executive director spot will only happen if six or fewer members of the selection committee commit, or if less than 21 player representatives don’t approve the move. In this situation, the selection committee would then choose several candidates to (presumably) run against Smith.
As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com writes, this decision will prevent the “umpteen-candidate clusterfudge” election that occurred in 2015. Furthermore, with the NFLPA preparing for a CBA negotiation (and an impending extension for commissioner Roger Goodell), retaining the executive director “could be the right message to send to management.”
Of course, some believe Smith instituted this rule to help himself keep his job. This includes lawyer Cyrus Mehri, who was prepared to run for the executive director gig.
“De Smith has given the vast majority of NFL players and the public at large the false impression that the election is in March of 2018,” Mehri said. “Meanwhile, he devised a scheme with a virtually secret and unobtainable constitution to prevent any election at all.
“We will not let him get away with this. Players deserve choices. We are going to fight every day to advance player voices and choices. To be the [executive director] of the NFLPA is a privilege that should be earned every three years in broad daylight. The stakes are too high to deprive NFL players of an opportunity to evaluate the candidates after a full debate.”
Smith was a unanimous choice for the role back in 2009, earning the job over Troy Vincent, Trace Armstrong, and David Cornwell. The 53-year-old predictably had a major role when the NFLPA negotiated a CBA with the owners back in 2011. However, despite his apparent positive influence, Mehri doesn’t believe that Smith’s new election rule is reflective of the NFLPA.
“It is ironic in a league where players have to compete every single day that De Smith is afraid of competition,” Mehri said. “NFL players deserve better.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.