SBJ/20090309/This Week's News

Vincent emphasizes service to players

Long viewed as a leading contender for the executive director’s job, Troy Vincent will help unite the NFLPA at a critical time, his supporters say.

“I think Troy Vincent would be good for the position because he has the trust of the players,” said Mike Ornstein, a veteran sports marketer who denies rumors that Vincent will hire him for a top union job. “And I think players think he is the guy who can bring the 1,880 guys together to be one unit in tough economic times.”

In an interview in September 2008, after the death of Executive Director Gene Upshaw, Vincent noted that Upshaw had often said that his successor should be another former NFL player.

“You first need someone who will serve the men; that, I think, is the most important thing,” Vincent said. “And as Gene always told us, and I will quote him, he said, ‘Your leader is right inside this room.’”

Upshaw had outlined a clear plan for players in the coming CBA talks, saying if they ever got to a year without a salary cap that the players would never agree to one again (next season is the last with a cap under the current CBA). He also warned that if the NFL tried to lock players out in 2011, the union would decertify itself.

Vincent, 37, indicated then that he was on the same page as Upshaw on labor strategy, saying, “When Gene spoke in those terms, he spoke because the membership allowed him to do so. He wouldn’t speak with that type of clarity if he didn’t have the [backing] of the players.”

While president of the NFLPA from 2004 to 2008, one of the projects Vincent focused on was helping to establish the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurship Program, which allows NFL players to attend classes at the business schools of Harvard, Kellogg (Northwestern), Stanford and Wharton (Pennsylvania).

“The establishment of the program required navigating a partnership between the league and the union as well as developing relationships with the partner business schools,” said Kenneth Shropshire, who is the director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative.

 “In my role I saw Troy perform at the highest level in working with the parties to put this player program in place. It is clear that Troy has both earned respect and gravitas in the player setting.”

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