SBD/February 27, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Gilbert Begins NFLPA Candidacy By Meeting With NFL Agents At Combine

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Gilbert (l) sent e-mails to agents prior to the Combine asking them to meet
Former NFLer Sean Gilbert said he met with 25-30 agents who represent a large number of players at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis as part of his campaign to run against NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith for the union’s top job next year. “The purpose of meeting with agents is part of the campaign,” said Gilbert. He did not identify the agents, but said they represented “a lot” of NFL players. “It was a plethora,” Gilbert said. “It was agents who represent a large number of players and agents who represent a small number of players.” He sent out e-mails to agents a few weeks prior to the Combine asking them to meet. Gilbert said he met with each agent individually for a 20-minute period. Several agents told THE DAILY that they received an invitation to meet with Gilbert from Gilbert before the combine. These agents said they know other agents met with him, but these agents said they did not meet with Gilbert. All agents requested anonymity, saying they were not authorized to speak publicly on union business. NFLPA player reps elect or re-elect the Exec Dir every three years at the union’s annual meeting. The next election will be held in March '15. "This union has always conducted its business based on the vision, will and leadership of players,” NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir of External Affairs George Atallah wrote in an e-mail. “The decision about who should lead them and what direction the NFLPA should go is up to them." Gilbert played in the NFL from ’92-'03 but was never a player union rep. He published an e-book last fall called “The $29 Million Tip,” a reference to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ‘11 salary, which was harshly critical of Smith’s negotiation of the '11 CBA. He has recently distributed his book to players all over the NFL. "Even if the owners had the leverage, it doesn’t mean you have to give back everything,” Gilbert said, adding he has a plan to get the players out of the current NFL CBA. “The way I see this, it’s not a ten year deal,” he said. But Gilbert did not reveal to the agents how exactly he plans to renegotiate a better deal for the players.

LAYING OUT HIS PLATFORM: Gilbert said he believes the players and the league should expand the current 16-regular game schedule to 18 games, something the league has wanted. However, in return, players should get free agency after three years, not four. Gilbert said the agents asked him a number of questions including, “Why do you want to run? What do you bring to the table? How do you think you can help? What’s the plan? What’s the platform? What’s the strategy?” He said that he met “rapid-fire” with one agent after another over a day and a half, and the meetings were a “meet and greet” for him to get to know the agents and for them to get to know him. Gilbert declined to reveal what the next step in his campaign would be, but said more would be revealed in the coming months.
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