After the re-election Tuesday of DeMaurice Smith as the executive director of the NFL Players Association, the stage is set for the NFL to have a much bigger issue on its hands than national anthem protests and sagging TV ratings.
Smith, who notably led NFL players through the lockout that lasted from March to July of 2011, told Sports Illustrated last Thursday that a strike or a lockout is likely to occur after the collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2020 season.
“I think that the likelihood of either a strike or a lockout (in 2021) is almost … a virtual certainty,” Smith said.
After a 14-0 vote from the selection committee, Smith’s new contract will run through 2021, which is also the final year of the collective bargaining agreement.
“After a comprehensive and professional process in line with our constitution, the NFLPA selection committee has unanimously selected DeMaurice Smith to continue in the role of executive director.” NFLPA President Eric Winston said. “Congratulations to De and we know there is more work to be done.”
Smith uploaded a statement to his Twitter account Tuesday night that said more work is to be done and featured the hashtag, “One Team.”
“This union is centered on player leadership. I am proud of their commitment, humbled by their trust in me and honored to serve. There is more work to be done,” Smith said.
— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 20, 2017
Attorney Cyrus Mehri, who previously organized a campaign against Smith in March, said Smith’s re-election was done in “a non-democratic process” because it didn’t involve a vote from all players.
“This was a very closed process,” Mehri said. “This is less about me than the 2,100 players and 32 player reps who have been disenfranchised; 26 clubs didn’t even have a representative on the executive committee.”
Smith suggested that the revenue split between current players and NFL owners will again be a big issue going forward, but another key issue in the eyes of the players will be the power NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has in deciding disciplinary penalties against players — a power that the players granted in the last CBA.
“We have a deal, where if it doesn’t get fixed, we are little ‘a’ Armageddon,” Smith said.
Smith has served as executive director of the NFLPA since 2009, a position requiring re-election every three years.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart congratulated Smith on his re-election, but downplayed speculation that a strike or lockout is a certainty.
“It certainly is not our view that, as he has expressed, that a work stoppage is inevitable,” Lockhart said. “There is no reason for that, it is not in the best interest of the game.”
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