THE MMQB's Peter King writes now that NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith "has told the current player reps he’d like to stay in the job" for as "long as they want him, the question is, Who will be the next generation of player leaders, and will they want Smith to continue when his current term expires" in March '15? There "will be a new president and as many as seven of 10 new Executive Board members elected later this month, and the usual changeover in the player reps will help determine Smith’s future." King writes a battle for the position between Smith and former NFLer Sean Gilbert, who has announced his candidacy, "would be interesting, if only for this issue: Smith is adamantly opposed to an 18-game schedule, and Gilbert’s on record as saying he’d be willing to give the owners 18 games in the regular season in exchange for a three-year path to free agency" (MMQB.SI.com, 3/3).
NOT SO FREE AGENCY: In Boston, Scott Lauber noted the free agent compensation system "has been a hot topic" in MLB recently. Red Sox 1B Mike Napoli said, "There were a few times when [agent Brian Grieper] said something to me like, ‘I think this (team) is interested, but they’re shying away because they don’t want to give away a pick.' It would be nice if the system changed. ... It’s tough because it’s kind of holding you back. You get (to free agency) and it should be all the teams that want you" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/2).
EARNING IT THE EARNHARDT WAY: In L.A., Jim Peltz wrote NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win at the Daytona 500 "was felt at NASCAR tracks around the country." Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker, whose track hosts the March 23 Sprint Cup race, said the track "saw huge renewal energy" after the Daytona 500. Zucker: "People feel very passionate about Junior." Zucker without disclosing specifics said, "I expect attendance (at Fontana) to be significantly more than it was last year" (L.A. TIMES, 3/2).