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March 16, 2015 10:56 AM
March 16, 2015 01:15 AM
NFL player representatives re-elected DeMaurice Smith as executive director of the NFL Players Association on Sunday evening in Maui.
Smith, who was first elected to the position in 2009, fought off eight challengers to keep his position with the union.
After two days in which the candidates laid out their plans and answered questions from player leaders, voting began about 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Maui, or 12:30 Monday morning on the East Coast. News that Smith had been re-elected came quickly, about 15 minutes later.
The first players who filed out of the hotel ballroom where the vote was taken all declined comment.
For more on the NFLPA election, see Monday’s Morning Buzz and SportsBusiness Daily.
March 15, 2015 09:40 PM
The nine candidates to be the NFLPA’s executive director fielded questions from union player leaders Sunday in preparation for the vote tonight.
Players are set to vote about 6:30 p.m. Maui time, which is 12:30 a.m. ET Monday. They’ll select from among DeMaurice Smith, the incumbent, and eight challengers.
"Our Executive Committee has set forth a fully transparent process for our elections that is consistent with our constitution and with labor law," Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints tight end and NFLPA executive committee member, wrote in an email. "We have given our player reps every opportunity to meet with the candidates, ask questions and have access to the facts."
Honolulu-based certified public accounting firm KMH LLP will count the ballots tonight. It is the same firm that oversaw the ballot count in the 2009 election, in which Smith was elected executive director.
Earlier today, candidates met with small groups of players for question-and-answer sessions. Running along with Smith are lawyer Jim Acho, NFLPA official Jason Belser, former NFLers Sean Gilbert and Robert Griffith, entrepreneur Rob London, former NFLPA counsel Arthur McAfee, lawyer Andrew Smith and retired Navy officer and former NFLer John Stufflebeem.
There are 81 player leaders here, including team reps, alternates and executive committee members, and they were divided among four conference rooms at the Maui hotel where the meeting is taking place.
Eight candidates rotated through the rooms to take questions from the player reps. Acho, who could not attend because he is scheduled to be in court Monday, met with players by conference call in the rooms.
Players are hearing the candidates’ 15-minute closing statements from 2:25 p.m. until 5 p.m. Then the voting begins.
It takes at least 17 of 32 team rep votes to win. If the vote is split among multiple candidates, the candidate or candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated. The process continues until a winner is chosen.
Players and their wives were seen walking around the hotel today. Yesterday, players were in a large conference room most of the day, listening to 40-minute presentations from all the candidates, as well as reports on the their backgrounds from a security firm. Players started work about 7 a.m. Saturday and stayed at it for about 12 hours.
"It was a long day," said one player who asked not to be identified. "There was a lot of information."
Free agent defensive end Chris Canty, the player rep for the Baltimore Ravens, said, "It's a process we have to go through. It's taking care of our business."
March 15, 2015 12:00 PM
Good morning, my name is Sean Gilbert.
I am running for Executive Director.
I’ve been preparing for this moment for three years.
I thank you for this opportunity.
There are three things I will be sharing. First, why I’m running. Second, my platform. Third, and most important, my solution.
In front of you, you should have a copy of the CBA, a copy of the NFLPA Constitution, my book and my business plan.
I would like everyone to turn to the first page of the NFLPA Constitution.
“We the National Football League Players Association … pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice and vision; … pledge to preserve and enhance the democratic involvement of our members; … confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership – TO PRESERVE OUR GAINS and achieve those goals not yet attained.”
Let me re-emphasize one thing: TO PRESERVE OUR GAINS.
Question: What does the NFLPA Executive Director do?
Sections 4.07 and 6.02 of the NFLPA Constitution define the role of the Executive Director. In layman’s terms, the Executive Director is specifically and most importantly responsible for the CBA.
As you can see, DeMaurice Smith is smiling as he holds the CBA.
I would not be smiling. I wouldn’t be in this picture. Because I never would have agreed to this deal.
This agreement represents a staggering shift of money from the Players to the Owners. Through the first five years, DeMaurice Smith gave $3.4 Billion of your money to the Owners.
Over the life of the deal, DeMaurice Smith will have given $10 Billion of your money to the Owners.
This is a HUGE problem.
On February 19th, I emailed a personalized letter to you and your agent stating that the Status Quo is unacceptable. More than half of you acknowledged there IS a problem, Status Quo IS unacceptable and Change IS mandated.
I would like you to take out the first page on the left hand side of my business plan titled “Salary Cap Per Team.”
Under the late Gene Upshaw, the salary cap NEVER went down.
In fact, it went up every single year.
Under DeMaurice Smith, it took five years to surpass the 2009 salary cap.
What is the critical difference between the late Gene Upshaw and DeMaurice Smith?
The difference is that DeMaurice Smith is a lawyer. A litigator, and completely lacks Institutional Football Knowledge. On the other hand, the late Gene Upshaw had 40 years of Institutional Football Knowledge. In fact he spent his entire life in the NFL.
Here’s the reason the $10 Billion problem was created. When this agreement was negotiated, it featured two people. DeMaurice Smith, with no Institutional Football Knowledge, against Roger Goodell, with 30 years of Institutional Football Knowledge. In fact, Goodell has spent his entire life in the NFL.
In 2009, the Player Reps elected DeMaurice Smith, a person who completely lacks institutional football knowledge.
RIGHT NOW, your fellow Players, the Owners and the Media are watching how you will address this $10 Billion problem.
And take note: The Owners know that DeMaurice Smith accepted substantially less money once. He’ll do it again.
This election will show the Owners that you will NOT accept this $10 Billion shift.
You have two choices.
The Status Quo.
Or mandate Change.
You really only have one choice.
In the Spring of 2010, I began studying the CBA. I helped navigate the waters for Vincent Jackson and my nephew, Darrelle Revis, with their respective contract situations.
In 2011, DeMaurice Smith negotiated the new CBA. Or what I like to call The $10 Billion Problem.
After reading this agreement, I couldn’t believe how badly we were beaten at the table. I decided at that time, that I wanted to run for the Executive Director position.
In 2013, I wrote my book “The $29 Million Tip” to demonstrate that I was serious about becoming Executive Director.
My book explains how Roger Goodell and his team destroyed us at the table. That is the reason why the owners are going to pay Goodell more than $300 million over the life of this deal.
The owners pay for performance.
Goodell has performed.
If you are curious about these numbers, I encourage you to call John Clayton or Andrew Brandt of ESPN. Neither has a dog in this fight. The NFL and the NFLPA know, Clayton and Brandt understand the real numbers and the NFLPA has never disputed my numbers, publicly or privately.
In February 2014, I attended the NFL Scouting Combine with the sole purpose of meeting with all of your respective agents. I privately met with more than 40 agents to discuss what they would like to see changed to the $10 Billion Problem.
Last offseason, I met with more than 200 players to get their input and discuss this $10 Billion Problem.
From those discussions, I developed the second part of this speech: The Platform. This platform is a reflection of the ideas I received from you, the players, and your agents.
1. Player Health and Safety – We will never negotiate the health and safety of our players. The health and safety of our Players is priceless and must be respected by both the Players and the Owners.
I want you to take out the next page on the left hand side of my business plan titled the NFLPA Player Health Management Program.
This program will create a database for injury information for all Players starting from the time they attend the scouting combine through the time they retire.
New York University Medical Center has offered to provide a database that would be overseen by the NFLPA. This would allow players to maintain all their medical records in one location, assist with second opinions and provide all their information for post-career medical claims.
And just so you know, New York University came to DeMaurice Smith in 2010 and offered to build this program. He ignored it.
In addition, I need you to read Chapter 4 in my book, titled “Give Up Nothing.” DeMaurice Smith is going to claim one of his greatest achievements was getting you better working conditions.
Because of the concussion lawsuits guys, you were getting that anyway. You didn’t have to give up $10 Billion.
And I quote from my book: “With the lawsuits over concussions looming against the league, having less contact didn’t just serve the players.”
“It served the owners.”
DeMaurice Smith sold you ice in the winter time.
2. ONE MILLION DOLLAR MINIMUM SALARY – The current system discriminates against older Players while exploiting younger Players. Increases in the “Minimum Salary” will be tied to the growth in revenues.
3. ELIMINATE CONTRACT SPLITS DURING THE REGULAR SEASON.
4. ROOKIE CONTRACTS – All Rookie contracts shall be three years. There will be no options for First Round selections.
5. FREE AGENCY AFTER THREE YEARS.
6. THE FRANCHISE TAG – A player may only be franchised once in his career.
7. ELIMINIATE THE TRANSITION TAG.
8. RENEGOTIATION OF CONTRACTS – Players will be able to renegotiate after one year instead of the current three year rule.
9. CONTRACT DISSOLUTION BENEFIT – I want eliminate fictional contracts. If a Team terminates the Contract, the Player shall receive 10 percent of the remaining money due. The Player shall receive such amount upon Retirement.
10. ELIMINATE COMPENSATORY DRAFT PICKS – Teams shall not be rewarded for refusing to sign their own Free Agents.
11. PRACTICE SQUAD SALARY INCREASE – Practice Squad Salary shall increase from $6,300 per week to $20,000 per week.
12. JOB CREATION – We shall add 256 NFL Player Jobs. Roster size shall increase from 53 to 57 players. Practice squad will increase to 12 players.
How do you think the owners got what they wanted in the CBA?
Pressure and Leverage.
So here is my solution.
Business negotiations boil down to pressure and leverage:
There are two ways to deal with pressure:
You can either feel it or you can apply it. Being a defensive lineman, I think you know where I stand?
Leverage is the ability to influence the other side to move closer to one’s negotiating position. To use something to maximize an advantage.
Now, let me ask you a question, why can’t we get fully guaranteed contracts like baseball and basketball?
Because the owners collude in suppressing salaries.
Page 253, Article 69, Section 2 of the CBA allows us to terminate this agreement due to collusion.
I have consulted with two major New York law firms. Both firms have told me that we have a strong case.
Now Please turn to Page 148 of the CBA. This is the section of the CBA commonly known as the “Funding Rule.” The funding rule prohibits us from getting fully guaranteed contracts like baseball and basketball.
SECTION 9. Funding of deferred and guaranteed contracts: “The NFL MAY …”
It’s plain English. It says the NFL MAY do this. It doesn’t say MUST. It doesn’t say the NFL REQUIRES or MANDATES this. It just says MAY.
When we’re done here, I want you to give your agents a call and ask them about this rule. What they will confirm for you is that the Funding Rule is the excuse all the teams use to say they can’t FULLY guarantee your contracts. FULLY GUARANTEE
This is collusion. It’s illegal. And it’s a violation of the CBA.
The NFL teams are cash cows. Their earnings are guaranteed for years and years. The owners are Billionaires.
For example, Paul Allen owner of the Seattle Seahawks. He’s the richest owner in the NFL. He’s worth 17 Billion Dollars.
Why would the NFL require and mandate Paul Allen and the rest of these billionaire owners to fund guaranteed contracts at the time of signing?
It’s the most obvious way that the NFL suppresses salaries.
This is what the NFL does. It prevents teams from spending money. Specifically, spending money on YOU the player.
That’s collusion. It’s against the law. And it’s in violation of the CBA. They have been doing it for decades and when teams step out of line, they put the hammer down.
In my business plan there’s an Article from 2001 about the Denver Broncos violating the funding rule. The Broncos were penalized $1 million and lost a third-round draft pick.
Again, I urgently ask you to PLEASE call your agents. They will tell you that every team tells them that the funding rule stops them from FULLY GUARANTEEING your contracts.
Again, it’s illegal. It’s collusion. It’s in violation of the CBA.
And most importantly, It’s OUR way out of The $10 Billion Problem.
Let me make two final points about collusion. First, DeMaurice Smith’s collusion lawsuit facts are completely different. All he wants is damages.
He’s not trying terminate this $10 Billion problem.
Second and most importantly, on page 123 of the CBA. I’m required to tell you, you now have 90 days to file a claim of collusion.
You are on the clock.
If not, this opportunity will be lost. Forever.
Let me now address the issue of fines and discipline.
The amount you are fined is not justified and I have a problem with it. We blame Roger Goodell. We are blaming the wrong person.
Please turn now to Page 184 of the CBA.
An unexcused/late-reporting absence will cost you $30,000 per day.
Under the late Gene Upshaw, that same fine was $14,000. DeMaurice Smith agreed to more than double the fine. This is across the board, whether you are late or wearing the wrong color shoes.
In addition, Page 204, Article 46 of the CBA is the section that provides Roger Goodell the power to be judge, jury and executioner. Who gave him this power? A former Federal Prosecutor. DeMaurice Smith used to punish people for a living. Who got punished in this deal?
Next, let’s discuss Union Dues. Dues were $10,000. They’re now $15,000. That’s a 50 percent increase. Union dues for all players amount to about $30 million per year. I want to eliminate union dues altogether.
I assume you guys have heard of Fantasy Football… I want the NFLPA to create a Fantasy Football platform. Last year, Fan Duel took in $50 million. This year, they are expected to bring in $100 million and be valued at One Billion Dollars. We will create our own Fantasy Football site.
The next thing I want to discuss is True Transparency. There must be HONESTY between the players, the union and the agents.
I would like you to turn back to the first page in my business plan, the sheet entitled Salary Cap Per Team.
Look at the First Column where it says Salary Cap Per Team. In 2012, the salary cap was $120,600,000 dollars. In 2013, the salary cap was $123,000,000 dollars.
Now, how many of you have received your 2013 Player Performance Checks?
None of you.
It doesn’t get paid until April 1st, 2016.
Next, I would like you to turn to Page 153 of the CBA.
Please go to Section 3 of Article 28. Mandatory Distribution Each Year. “There shall be mandatory distribution to players of the entire fund each League Year.” I repeat this IS MANDATORY.
So, I ask you again. How many of you have received your 2013 Player Performance checks?
You want to know why? DeMaurice Smith violated his own agreement.
DeMaurice Smith moved money to make sure the cap didn’t go down. He moved money around to save his job. In 2013 the salary cap per team would have been $119,600,000 dollars. That would have been a drop by at least $1,000,000 per team from the previous year. He would have been fired.
Why did the owners go along with this plan? They LOVE this deal. They will do anything to protect this deal. Even if that means protecting DeMaurice Smith.
If DeMaurice Smith manipulated you on this, how else is he manipulating you?
I also want to mention the NFLPA’s Financial Advisor Program. I have heard many horror stories of players losing MILLIONS of dollars in investments. It has been recently brought to my attention that 60 Minutes is investigating the NFLPA Financial Advisor Program. We need to review, analyze, and fix this problem.
Owners are in the football business for the long haul.
Players are here for the short-term. Some may play three years. Some will play more than 10. Unfortunately, statistically speaking, on average our careers are 3.5 years.
My job as the Executive Director of the NFLPA is to maximize your worth. As I said in my platform, my job is to “remove the layers of restrictions and controls that the owners utilize in suppressing salaries.”
The team I have put around me has at least 150 years of Institutional Football Knowledge and has spent the past three years studying and researching The $10 Billion Problem.
I want you to turn to Page 158 of the CBA.
And it says: “The League and/or Clubs may increase the number of regular season games per team above the standard of 16 only with NFLPA approval, which may be withheld at the NFLPA’s sole discretion.”
This is the only thing that DeMaurice Smith received in the past negotiation. He gave up $10 Billion for this paragraph.
Over a 10-year period, this agreement will cost each of you $5 million.
I don’t know about you guys, but $5 Million is a lot of money.
WHEN you elect me as Executive Director I will recoup the $10 Billion.
When you elect me I WILL GROW THE GAME.
When you elect me I WILL MAXIMIZE YOUR WORTH
When you elect me I WILL REMOVE the layers of restrictions and controls that the owners utilize in suppressing salaries.
One thing you should know about me, if you don’t know already: I NEVER BLUFF.
Here is an example of how to grow the game. Instead of the Super Bowl being awarded to the city that builds a football stadium, we should award the Super Bowl to the city that bids the highest amount. Just like the World Cup and the Olympics. Based on our study of the economic impact of major sporting events, a
bid could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
One of the questions I’ve been asked since meeting with agents and players is: What would I have done differently during the 2011 lockout?
First, I would have educated the players on the difference between a strike and a lockout. A strike is when the employee refuses to work. A lockout is when the owner refuses to let you work. Everyone please turn to page 19, Section 6.04 of the NFLPA constitution.
It says right there you need 2/3rds of all players to vote to strike.
I CANNOT and WILL NOT authorize a strike. History has shown that strikes don’t work. Since 1970 we have had 4 strikes and they have all failed.
Second, when the Owners locked us out in 2011, DeMaurice Smith’s strategy failed. I would have used leverage, pressure and economics.
The economics of the NFL are driven by the television networks. The biggest fear the television networks have is the Internet.
Please pull out the Media Valuations sheet on the left hand side of my business plan.
On the left side of the sheet are the NFL’s Broadcast Partners. They have a collective value of $238 Billion.
On the right side are Internet companies that my team has spoken with privately over the past two years. They have a collective value of $1.2 TRILLION.
I repeat $1.2 TRILLION. You can see who has the deeper pockets.
The Internet companies love our game. They want to broadcast our games. They would love to partner with the players.
Now understand, I’m trying to prevent a lockout and get a fair and equitable deal. This is the kind of leverage, pressure and pure economics that will accomplish that.
This is a deterrent to the owners to ensure that you will continue to receive your paychecks. Please note my nephew, Darrelle Revis, has never missed a paycheck.
In addition, this is the kind of leverage and pressure that helped Vincent Jackson and Alex Boone get equitable deals.
Our ability to work with the internet is the key to give us the leverage we need. It will cause the NFL’s broadcast partners to put incredible pressure on the owners.
We will make the networks feel the pressure so they will apply it to the owners.
We are the Kingmakers of media. This is the way the owners think and we should approach business the same way.
There is no question that it is time to change the Status Quo. There is a reason there are EIGHT people running against DeMaurice Smith, even his right hand man Jason Belser is running.
That tells you there is a mandate for change. I’d like to commend Jason Belser and Arthur McAfee for mandating change.
I have one problem: Why did it take so long? They knew this was a $10 Billion Problem and did absolutely nothing.
As I have laid out to you over the past two years: There is a $10 Billion problem and that’s the reason I’m here. I am confident I can fix this problem.
Join me gentlemen. I know what you want. More importantly, I have a plan to get it. No one else here has spent the time and the energy and put together a team that can get you what you want and what you deserve.
I will maximize your value.
I understand the problem.
And I have a solution.
March 11, 2015 11:08 AM
Among the comments:
■ "If you really look at [Las Vegas], especially the fact that this doesn't include the luxury suites, there's not the commitments from casinos and businesses in the area, it's relatively strong I think to get 8,000 real hockey fans in that community to buy in. I don't think a lot of people would've said there were 8,000 fans in that area to begin with."
■ "Some of the Arizona folks in the community would like to see [Andrew Barroway] at more games ... but sometimes the owner's moves with his checkbook can be just as strong as his presence at games."
■ "It's a real statement of intent in my opinion that the team decided to hold onto salary for some of their bigger-name players in order to gain a bigger return. In the Yandle trade ... if the Coyotes didn't keep that salary, the Rangers could not have given up Anthony Duclair or those first-round picks because they're strapped cap-wise. ... For Arizona to keep salary on to get that boost coming in, I think that's a good statement of intent on their hope for that market of the future."
March 9, 2015 03:42 PM
ESPN’s Howard Bryant, on the NFLPA Exec Dir election: “The truth is that players haven't recovered from when their stars sold them out. Joe Montana, Tony Dorsett, (Ed) ‘Too Tall’ Jones and others crossed the picket line in 1987. It’s the stars who run any union, not DeMaurice Smith or his challengers” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/8).
SWEET SCIENCE: Boxing HOFer Ray Leonard, on the significance of boxing back on network TV: “These boxers, they know the power of the networks. In fact, (Friday) they said they wanted to be a champion, but also famous and that all begins right here, right now” (“Premier Boxing Champions,” NBC, 3/7).
REBOUNDING NICELY: N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola, on Michael Jordan being named to Forbes’ list of billionaires: “Jordan … amassed his fortune due to his endorsement deals with Nike, which proves there is life after being the guy responsible for drafting Adam Morrison” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/8).
WHAT A KICK: ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, on the environment at the Citrus Bowl for MLS expansion club Orlando City SC’s first match: “The majority of these fans were here at 11:00 in the morning. This isn't your typical fan maybe just saying, ‘I'm going to come in, watch Kaká one game or two games and then move on.’ You're talking a real fan base here in Orlando” (“NYC FC-Orlando City SC,” ESPN2, 3/8).
March 9, 2015 10:00 AM
March 4, 2015 02:44 PM
Among the comments:
■ "This deal was really a surprise to me because NBC is the home of hockey. NBC has had the NHL for many years now and is doing a very good job with it. … Fox was making a very big play to go get it, and part of the reason is because Fox has FS1 and FS2. ESPN, of course, has its 20 channels, and they need live sports rights to go along with them. This is as much about trying to grab as many live rights as they can, as it is an interest in hockey."
■ "Every time we go through an Olympics period, hockey gets huge ratings in the Olympics. Everyone waits for the big bump to go and hit the NHL, and that big bump almost never comes. The same thing happens in soccer with the World Cup. The World Cup for a month takes over the U.S. sports-viewing public, the TV-viewing public. MLS never sees a bump from it. It can’t hurt, but generally to depend on a bump for the NHL regular season to come from this event is really asking a lot."
■ "The Olympics is an NBC property. If the NHL does decide, ‘Let’s send our players exclusively to the World Cup and not the Olympics,’ not only does NBC lose out on the World Cup rights, but potentially the hockey interest in the Olympics is not as high."
■ "The NHL wants to get on another network. I do think that there’s a big marketing might with ESPN that hits the casual sports fan [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman wants to hit. If you were to promote this or promote the NHL regular season during some of ESPN’s highly rated college basketball games or NBA games, that would be great. ... Ultimately, though, usually the company that writes the biggest check would get it, and I would imagine a partner like NBC that has been such a good partner for the NHL for so long, if they had written the biggest check, I find it hard to believe that the NHL wouldn’t go that route."
March 2, 2015 10:00 AM
February 25, 2015 12:30 PM
Among the comments:
■ "There’s definitely been a resistance to showcase these stats that we’ve been talking about for a long time if you’re a fan of hockey. … It’s a big step for the NHL to get involved in this sort of thing, and their point of view is, ‘Now we can do it our way, use our stats, make sure it’s accurate.’"
■ "Everyone who has been keeping track of these stats for years has called them Corsi and Fenwick. … I think it was a bold decision by the NHL to change them. It shows that they’re trying to put their own stamp on it. … Their rationale for changing those names being that they think it will make the metrics more accessible to the casual fan. But I would like to see them present that breakdown of what each stat is, put that more on the forefront."
■ "I think it’s great that hockey fans do have a place to go for this type of information now that is official."
■ "The NBA has really been at the forefront of this player tracking movement. … They’ve made a point of making all that data available for free, with the thought process being, ‘Anything we can do to get the fans more engaged in the game is ultimately going to help us because fans that are more engaged are going to go to more games, watch more games, buy more merchandise and be invested in our product.’ I think that ultimately the NHL will adopt a similar mentality."