SBJ/March 19-25, 2012/Labor and Agents

NFLPA to elect player president

The NFL Players Association will hold its annual meeting later this week in Marco Island, Fla., where it is scheduled to elect a new player president and several executive committee members. It also may move to eliminate the so-called “junior rule” that limits when agents can have contact with college underclassmen.

Additionally, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith is widely expected at the meeting to stand for re-election. Smith, who began as executive director in 2009, received a three-year contract when he was voted to his post by the players.

Attempts to reach Smith for comment on this story were unsuccessful.

Two player leaders last week said they did not know of any new candidates who were going to run for the executive director job, adding that if an outsider did run, they doubted the candidate would win an election. These player leaders asked for anonymity, saying they believed union business should be kept private.

Replacements for NFLPA Player President Kevin Mawae (left) and executive committee member Tony Richardson (at podium) are expected to be chosen when the NFLPA meets this week. Executive Director DeMaurice Smith (right) is expected to stand for re-election.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Former Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks has said that he has been approached about running for the position and reportedly had been considering it. Attempts to reach Brooks through his marketing agent, Peter Miller of Jabez Marketing, were unsuccessful.

As for NFLPA Player President Kevin Mawae, who had filled that role since he was elected in 2008, he is no longer eligible for the post because he has retired as a player. Executive committee members Jeff Saturday, Domonique Foxworth and Charlie Batch have been named publicly as candidates who could run for that position, but it was not clear last week if any of the three, or if any other players, would run.

Attempts to reach Saturday, Foxworth and Batch were unsuccessful. Mawae declined via email to comment.
At least three additional seats on the 11-member executive committee are open as well, as Sean Morey, Tony Richardson and Mike Vrabel have retired.

Team representatives vote on the executive director position and on the executive committee members. Executive committee members typically are players who have previously served as their teams’ player representatives.
Meanwhile, Smith told NFL player agents at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month that the union could act to eliminate the “junior rule” at the meeting. The rule has been unpopular with NFL player agents since it was passed in 2007. It prohibits them from having any contact with college football players until the players are three years removed from high school.

The late Gene Upshaw, who was NFLPA executive director when the rule was implemented, said at the time that the rule was at least in part a result of requests from college football coaches, including current Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who then was head coach at USC. Upshaw said college coaches wanted the NFLPA to stop agents from pestering young college football players and convincing them to declare for the draft early. Agents contend all the rule has done is give a competitive recruiting edge to marketing agents and financial advisers who are not regulated by the NFLPA. Additionally, the rule has not stopped college football players from declaring early, as this year there were a record number of underclassmen, 65, who declared for the NFL draft.

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