Smith’s election as Executive Director of the NFLPA is great news for NFL fans.
By Bill Smith
The NFL Players Association announced that attorney DeMorris Smith had been elected Executive Director unanimously by the team Player Reps. This is very good news for all NFL fans. It seems that the Reps have selected a moderate in Smith over the extreme positions of the other leading candidates.
Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong were the best known candidates to fill the very large shoes of Gene Upshaw. Both of them were campaigning on a platform of a very hard line position against the NFL. Both had reportedly promised the players that they were the candidate that could finally bring guaranteed contracts to the NFL players. That would create a long and ugly strike/lockout that could cost the NFL several seasons. If the owners folded first, it would have created a league that would make Major League Baseball look organized.
While Smith’s positions on league issues are widely unknown, he has not made any overt public statements about what concessions he would demand from the league.
The NFLPA website says the following about Smith:
Smith, 45, is a trial lawyer and litigation partner at D.C. law firm Patton Boggs. He has defended individuals in high profile criminal cases and Congressional investigations while also representing Fortune 500 companies in criminal and complex civil cases, compliance matters, and internal investigations. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Smith previously served as counsel to then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Smith graduated from Cedarville University and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. Smith, who is married with two children, will begin his term with the NFLPA immediately and will work out of the Association’s Washington D.C. office.
In his first act as ED, Smith asked former head coach of the Colts Tony Dungy to be a buffer between the union and the league. Dungy has said he is interested in the position.
My analysis: In his first day on the job, Smith has given the fans two very positive signals. First, the selection of Dungy to help broker a deal. Dungy has the respect of players and owners and has the kind of quiet demeanor that is conducive to getting things done—even things as difficult as negotiations between the NFLPA and the owners.
The second and equally important sign was in his first official statement as ED. He said that he wanted to begin negotiations with the league as soon as possible. An agreement before the end of the 2009 season would reduce the uncertainty that now exists in 2010 and beyond.
The fact that the players did not elect either Vincent or Armstrong is a very good sign that at least a number of the players have a serious interest in getting an agreement. If the union is at all reasonable, a deal will get done. The owners have way too much at stake to not be reasonable.
The fans deserve the very best and fairest deal between these parties. The game is too important to too many people not to get a deal done. A strike will only depress the millions of people that love NFL football. And with the current economic downturn, we are depressed enough.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]