Pressure grows on NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith

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The hard line former candidates for the post of NFLPA Executive Director that were defeated by DeMaurice Smith in vote of the Executive Committee last year are clambering again. Former NFLPA President Troy Vincent was one candidate that is reportedly active again in the annual meeting of the union this year. Rumors are that Vincent’s immediate target is current NFLPA President Kevin Mawae. Originally, Mawae was not expected to have any opposition for reelection. Now he will from the hard line group. Mawae is known to be less hard line than his likely opponents. The President must be an active NFL player. If Vincent can get Mawae replaced by a hard line guy, that will put more pressure on Smith to take a more aggressive stance against the owners. It will also put another hard liner on the negotiating team.

There are 4 players that are stepping down 10-man Executive Committee. Those players are Keenan McCardell, Donovin Darius, Mark Bruener, and Kevin Carter. If those 4 are replaced by hard liners, Smith’s position could be in jeopardy. A change at the top of the union’s negotiating team would insure a 2011 lockout.

What restarted the attempted coup is an unanswered question. However, it is clear that one key issue is the change in Smith’s position on a salary cap. Originally he said that he would never present an agreement to the rank and file of the union that included a salary cap. However, now he says he is willing to accept one. Actually, he will insist that a salary floor be included in any CBA. We have all seen the owners keep their hands in their pockets during this free agency period. Smith realized early on that the only way to insure an agreed to percentage of total compensation is to have a salary floor below which a team can not go.

There are other issues at play as well. One of those is the distribution of TV and other “common” income between the teams. The HL faction demands that all teams get an even split. In addition, they want the low income teams to get extra financial help to insure that no team’s salary totals fall below what they think is a reasonable minimum.

What will happen if the hard liners get control of the union?

One thing that has not been mentioned anywhere that I believe will happen is a challenge to the TV contracts that allow the league to be paid even if there is a lockout. The union will likely ask the National Labor Relations Board to strike down the part of the TV contracts that provide payments during a lockout claiming that money represents an unfair pressure against the union in labor negotiations. Given the pro-union stance of the President and his administration, that request to the NLRB will likely succeed. The NFL would take any such action by the NLBR to court. I believe the courts would be the final arbitrator of the issue but that process would take months and the outcome would be uncertain. The court would certainly grant a temporary restraining order to stop networks from making payments to the teams until the case could be heard. That would change the dynamics of the negotiations. The length of the process and the anger on both sides it would generate would further reduce the chances of a settlement in time to avoid a lockout.

The greatest area of focus for the HLs will be the overall percentage of total revenue that the players will get. The owners backed out of the current CBA due mostly to the 58% of total revenues less League-wide Projected Benefits that were granted to the players by the contract. According to some, the owners asked for a 14-18% reduction in the players cut depending on how the percentage is calculated. The union refused. HLs want to keep that percentage within a couple of percent of the expiring deal.

The union HLs want guaranteed contracts for all players. The owners would be stupid to agree to this. However, if they are not getting paid by the networks the owners might be pressured into accepting this. The concept of guaranteed contracts would devastate the league the way it has injured both the NBA and MLB.

What could be worse is that they may demand that all current contracts are guaranteed. Many existing contracts are back loaded to bring up the total dollars for PR purposes. Many older players get back loaded contracts as a matter of respect even when both sides know that those dollars will not be paid. The player will either retire or be cut to prevent getting the back load dollars.

The HL faction also want the union to sue the owners over collusion for failing to spend like the Congress on free agents. That will be a given if the HLs win but might happen regardless of the outcome of the coup.

The hard liners want a floor but no top salary cap to spending by a team. The teams will not be likely to allow that.

The bottom line:

If the hard liners win control of the negotiating committee the odds for a lockout go from around 50% now to around 90%.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

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 He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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What to look for this weekend in football

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Pac10 Championship—sort of

Oregon beat Oregon State 37-33 for the league title and the Rose Bowl ticket. In the end, it was the running and passing of the Ducks that won the game. The Ducks will give Ohio State all they want.

SEC Championship We finally get to see #1 Florida against #2 Alabama. It should be a defensive struggle again this year like it was last season. However, Bama seems to have a little more explosiveness to their O than the Gators. The game will be determined by turnovers and will be low scoring and close. The Bama D is as good as the Florida D so the game will depend on the QB’s ability to move the ball on the opponent. Most experts think that Bama will win but I can’t go against Tebow. When the game is in the balance he always seems to find a way to win.

Big12 Championship

#3 Texas will have their way with a good but too young #22 Nebraska team in this game. The game will be the showcase for QB Colt McCoy and should elevate him to a Heisman award as much for his body of work as for this season. The Huskers are a year away from challenging for a B12 title.

#5 Cincinnati @ #15 Pitt

The Bearcats are playing for a BcS game and should win. Pitt looked very ordinary last week in a loss to West Virginia. I expect the Cats’ D to be too much for the talented but turnover prone Panthers.

USA Conference Championship

If you haven’t seen Houston QB Keenum, take a look at this game. He is fun to watch. The Houston O is a wide open passing game that will throw the ball all over the East Carolina D. Nobody is going to want to get paired with Houston in a bowl game.


Eagles @ Falcons

QB Vick makes his return to Atlanta but won’t be a factor. Both teams are chasing after a playoff spot. The loser will likely be out of the race. The Falcons play well at home but the Eagles should win.

Titans @ Colts

QB Young will have his winning streak ended with a thud but most likely it won’t be his fault. The Titan D has been playing better with Young at QB because he has been able to keep drives alive with his legs. The problems in the pass D of the Titans will be exploited by Manning. The Colts won’t blow them away because they tend to play down to competition but the Colts will win.

Cowboys @ Giants

Well, it’s December and time for the Boys to take their annual dive. Everything points to a Boys win but Romo doesn’t play well after Turkey day. The Boys need a win to keep up on the Eagles. I have to think that the Boys will find a way to lose rather than Giants winning the game.

Vikings @ Cards

IF QB Warner plays, this should be a good close game filled with offense. But I don’t think he will and the Vikes will win. QB Leinart couldn’t beat the Titans last week and folds under a good pass rush. The Vikes turn up the heat on D and win the game.

Ravens @ Packers

The Ravens have struggled in the last couple of weeks but should find the Pack D a little easier to run on. But in the end, the Pack O will be too much for an aging Raven D. Pack wins in a close game.

Seattle fires their GM.

Tim Ruskett, the GM that replaced Coach Holmgren in that role. Some people are assuming that Holmgren will come back to take that job along with the Presidency of the team. I don’t think that will happen. Holmgren didn’t have a great history drafting players. Check out my analysis of his draft history on

Browns lose all hope.

The Browns lost their best player on D—NT Rogers and best player on O—RB Lewis to the IR. What will hurt even more, their best player overall in Mr. Everything, Cribbs. Cribbs let a kickoff free ball lay in the end zone against the Bengals. That was not a brain cramp; it was a signal that he has given up on the team, the coaching staff and his chance for getting the contract that he was promised. Again, I will comment on this more in my weekly article on

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 He has also published several novels on and edits .

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