SBD/Issue 121/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFLPA Exec Committee To Meet Tomorrow On Open Roll Call Ballot

The NFLPA Exec Committee will meet in Maui tomorrow, a day before the start of the union's annual meeting, and may consider passing a resolution to change the union's constitution so that the Exec Dir vote would be by open roll call instead of secret ballot, sources said. The proposal, which is being pushed by supporters of former NFLPA President Troy Vincent, would have to receive a two-thirds majority vote of the entire board of 32 player reps if it cleared the 11-member Exec Committee. It could also be viewed as a referendum on Vincent's candidacy, as the other three candidates are said to favor a secret ballot count, which is traditional for the NFLPA and other unions in elections of leaders. Vincent and the other three candidates -- former NFLPA President Trace Armstrong and attorneys David Cornwell and DeMaurice Smith -- will begin presenting their cases to the reps Saturday. A winner is expected to be chosen Sunday. Sources said the move toward an open ballot is being pushed by those close to Vincent because Vincent has said he does not trust some members of the NFLPA staff, and so may not trust the results if they are tabulated anonymously. An open ballot runs counter to the union's history, however, and most democratic traditions of secret ballot, a system that prizes anonymity so the voter does not feel publicly pressured.

CHANGE COULD BE SIGN TOWARD VINCENT: If the player reps do change the constitution this weekend before the vote, that would be a strong sign they are leaning to Vincent, some say. Others say his push for the open ballot is a sign he does not have the 17 votes required to win the job. What is unclear is whether a vote to change the constitution would also itself be secret or by open ballot. One source said it would be secret ballot, since that is the past practice of the union in NFLPA player president and player rep elections. Sources close to Vincent said they were confident the change would be made, while other sources said that it could backfire on Vincent by making him seem not to trust the players to voice their choice in secret.

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