SBD/Issue 149/Leagues & Governing Bodies

New NFLPA Exec Dir Smith Yet To Agree To Contract Terms

Smith's Contract Proposal Calls
For Annual Salary Of $3.2-3.7M
NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, who was elected to the post last month, remains “without a contract,” and an NFLPA Exec Committee memo last week indicated that the two sides “remain far apart on several components of a potential deal,” according to Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com. The memo, from DC-based labor attorney Stephen Saxon to the committee, “includes details and a synopsis of a recent executive committee conference call, during which Smith’s proposal for a five-year contract was ‘the major topic of discussion’ and was ‘discussed … at length’ by the 11-man committee.” Pasquarelli noted “primary among the several areas of disagreement is salary.” Smith’s proposal “calls for an annual income of between [$3.2-3.7M] for the first three years of the contract, including a $500,000 signing bonus,” but the Exec Committee has “proposed that Smith not be paid a signing bonus, and that his salary range for the first three years of the contract be between” $1-2M annually. The memo indicated that "'some committee members' preferred that Smith’s total salary be capped at $4.5[M] for the first three years with ‘the idea being that the initial salary could be relatively low with a commitment to future increases once Mr. Smith proves himself.'" Other Exec Committee members “wanted to review the ranges of the executive directors from other major sports unions,” and NFLPA President Kevin Mawae “has been charged with collecting that information, which will be shared with committee members once available.” Pasquarelli noted late NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw earned $6.7M during the FY ending February 28, 2007, but that “included a one-time bonus of $2.4[M] for licensing fees.” Smith also is “asking for a five-year contract, while the committee has recommended three years.” Other “areas of dispute include: salary deferrals, athletic club memberships, life insurance, reimbursement of legal fees, and remuneration for speaking engagements” (ESPN.com, 4/21).

POOR PLANNING: PROFOOTBALLTALK’s Mike Florio wrote someone “screwed up royally when not determining the terms Smith and the other candidates would accept before a single ballot was cast,” as each finalists’ financial expectations for the position “should have been factored into the selection process.” Each of the finalists before the election also “should have been required to sign the paperwork, with the contract being made expressly contingent on actually getting the job via the election process.” Florio wrote “regardless of how this all turns out, whoever designed the haphazard procedure should be fired ... because this dispute plays directly into management’s hands by perpetuating the notion that the NFLPA can’t get out of its own way” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/21).

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