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NFLPA Faces Unique Exec Dir Elections With Eight Challengers To DeMaurice Smith

NFLPA Faces Unique Exec Dir Elections With Eight Challengers To DeMaurice Smith

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Smith helped the NFLPA come to terms on the most recent CBA, signed in '11
Eight candidates have been nominated to run Sunday against NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith for the union's top job, and the union has "never had an election like this in its 45-plus years," according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. The number of challengers "shows that NFL players are unhappy with the direction of the NFLPA" and the CBA signed in '11. But how unhappy they are "remains unclear" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/8). THE MMQB's Peter King writes it is "stunning" that there are eight challengers. Eight candidates "had to be nominated by at least three player reps, which says everything you need to know about the current level of satisfaction or lack thereof with Smith’s performance." King: "I think it’s wrong-headed to say Smith made a bad deal with the 2011 CBA. Maybe it was a bad deal, making a pact for a decade." But the "gains in off-field lives for players are always minimized when players discuss the fruits of the new labor deal, and Smith’s group did a tremendous job in giving players more of an off-season and in making practices in training camp and during the season significantly less taxing" (MMQB.SI.com, 3/9). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported if candidate Sean Gilbert wins, he will "pursue a collusion case that could lead to the premature termination of the CBA." A source said that Gilbert will "disclose all details" to NFLPA player reps this weekend (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/7). In N.Y., Gary Myers wrote Gilbert is the "most serious challenger" to Smith (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/8). ESPN’s Jim Trotter said, "Particularly disturbing is that one of the candidates comes from in-house and that’s Jason Belser … (and) so among outsiders that shows that there is a crack in De’s support base" (“NFL Insiders,” ESPN, 3/6).

ROCK THE VOTE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen notes despite a new nominating process, the "template of how the candidates will campaign is set to be the same" as it was in '09. Candidates will "present their platforms to all of the players" in Maui on Saturday. In '09, each of the four candidates "gave a speech to all the player reps and alternate player reps for an hour each." Candidate John Stufflebeem said that NFLPA President Eric Winston "informed him that it was possible that candidates would have an hour, but possibly 45 minutes or less, to present." The limit "would depend on the number of candidates up for election." After the presentations, Chicago-based Hillard Heintze Strategic Security Advisors is "expected to give the players a presentation of extensive background checks on the candidates." Candidates on Sunday "will meet with smaller groups of players in breakout sessions," which are "intended to give players a chance to ask questions of the candidates and interact with them in a smaller group setting." The candidates also may "have an opportunity to give a concluding statement Sunday before the vote." It takes a majority, or 17 of the 32 player reps, to "elect a candidate." If a candidate "does not get the majority on the first vote, candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated and a runoff or runoffs between the remaining candidates will determine the winner" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/9 issue).

NATURE OF THE BEAST: In Phoenix, Bob McManaman wrote the NFLPA "better make sure it gets one heck of a smart and progressive new executive director because veteran star players nearing the end of their current contracts these days are getting the shaft." McManaman: "Just look at the salary cap casualties going on at the moment, which happens every year at this time. You can't go a day without hearing about another solid NFL player getting cut and being told to look for work elsewhere." It is the "nature of the business, but it needs to change." The "only way that can happen" is for the NFLPA to "negotiate a fairer collective bargaining agreement with the NFL." It is "going to take a new voice with a strong will to force change" (AZCENTRAL.com, 3/6). ESPN’s Howard Bryant said, "If players really want to exert their power they need Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Richard Sherman fully engaged all the time. Maybe Smith will lose, but anyone who thinks he's the problem is in serious need of a history lesson” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/8).

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