Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Mar 2009

DeMaurice Smith Named Head Of NFLPA

DeMaurice Smith, a 45-year-old D.C.-based attorney, has been voted new executive director of the NFL Players' Association. Smith beat out three other candidates, including former players Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong. The two most pressing issues facing Smith: Taking better care of retired players, and getting a new deal done with the league to prevent a work stoppage in 2011.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 16 Mar 2009

10 comments, Last at 16 Mar 2009, 10:46pm by Jerry


by Israel P. - Jerusalem (not verified) :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:41am

Smith is an NFL outsider who has no labor law experience, but has ties to President Barack Obama and worked with new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

This is a remarkable sentence, as the lead to his resume paragraph. Either it means "we hope it will be OK" or "we will sic Congress and the administration on you, if we don't get our way."

by Israel P. - Jerusalem (not verified) :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:43am

That should read "That means either..."

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 11:26am

I'm pretty sure, given reports on the content of Smith's address to the reps, that it means the latter. He plans to use the threat of a congressional re-examination of the NFL's anti-trust exemption as leverage in the CBA negotiations.

My feeling is that Armstrong and Vincent would both have been disastrous choices: Armstrong would have followed Upshaw's path of representing the interests of agents first, elite players second, other current players third and retired players not at all; Vincent planned to be so aggressive and confrontational in his dealings with the league that labour peace would have been impossible. I guess I saw Cornwell as a better choice than Smith, but the key thing for the interests of sanity is that the reps have gone for one of the lawyers, not one of the ex-players.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 12:21pm

This is going to strain the no politics rule in the future, I think.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 2:50pm

The two most pressing issues facing Smith: Taking better care of retired players,...

Maybe that is a pressing issue according to the media and the retired players themselves, but it is in no way a pressing issue for the union itself (which only represents active players) or the owners (who don't much care beyond their desire not to pay for it). Unless the current players have dramatically changed their stance, Smith will (and legally should) continue Upshaw's policy on that issue, which was to ignore it.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by TruFalcon (not verified) :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 6:13pm

From the article:

According to a biography released by Smith's assistant, the lawyer presented the union with a comprehensive plan, assembling roughly a dozen advisers -- Wall Street financiers, labor lawyers and sports licensing experts -- in making his presentation to players. His goals include increasing health care and opportunities for former and current players, and he believes "the union has both a moral and business obligation to retired players."

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 7:18pm

That's nice. I hope succeeds in improving the level of care provided to retired players. However, I'm unclear on how the union has a business obligation to retired players. In addition, if the current players maintain their previous stance of not wanting benefits for retired players, the union has an ethical obligation not to fight for those benefits, which would trump his moral obligation. But maybe the current players have changed their stance.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

by Bobman :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 4:06pm

I bet DeSean Jackson is comfortable with this selection.

by Kevin Eleven :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:10pm

As someone that is far more pro-player than the average fan, I'm excited about this new chapter in NFLPA history. Gene Upshaw was terrible, and the last thing the NFLPA needed was another former player hired from the inside.

Remember, the most effective union leader in the history of team sports was an outsider named Marvin Miller.

by Jerry :: Mon, 03/16/2009 - 10:46pm

Don't forget that Miller came from the United Steelworkers, not from a top lobbying firm.