Former Navy Officer John Stufflebeem Intends To Be Fourth Candidate For NFLPA Role
John Stufflebeem, a former three-star Navy Admiral and NFL punter, said that he intends to run for election for NFLPA Exec Dir next month. In order to run for election, a candidate must have letters of endorsement from three of the 32 player reps. Stufflebeem said he has commitments from three reps to nominate him, but he did not know if those players had sent in letters formally nominating him for the position. “I have three that have committed to me. If there are more, I don’t know who they are yet,” Stufflebeem said last night. He is running on a platform of building a more positive, constructive relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA. “The No. 1 priority coming out of this election of the executive director is building a positive working relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA, based on mutual respect,” Stufflebeem said. “I don’t think that exists today.” Stufflebeem joins Michigan-based attorney James Acho and former NFLer Sean Gilbert as candidates who are officially challenging sitting NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith for the position. Gilbert, who is running on a platform of overturning the current CBA by filing a collusion case and by expanding the 16-game regular season to 18 games, is seen as Smith’s most serious challenger. Stufflebeem said his position on expanding the regular season to 18 games is that the issue is up to the players to decide. As far as trying to invalidate the current CBA, Stufflebeem said, “I think it will be a lot more constructive to build on the current CBA in a positive way, rather that to blow it up.” The NFLPA has set up a website for Exec Dir candidates to send in their platforms so players can view them. “I needed to send a letter to [NFLPA President] Eric Winston, asking that I be considered a candidate and he told me my platform would be put on their website,” Stufflebeem said.
LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH BELICHICK: Stufflebeem played for the Lions in the '70s and has a long-standing relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Stufflebeem played for Steve Belichick, Bill's father, when he was the coach at Navy, and then played for Bill when he was an assistant coach for the Lions. "I was a rookie player for Bill Belichick,” Stufflebeem said. “Since I retired from the Navy, he called me and asked me to do work for him and I have been doing that ever since.” Stufflebeem, who currently is a motivational speaker also has done work for the Texans, the NFLPA and military veterans.
NOT HIDING FROM HIS PAST: Stufflebeem left the Navy in '08 following a Defense Department investigation into allegations of an inappropriate relationship, and he said asking about his past is a "fair question to ask." Stufflebeem in an email said, "I have addressed this in my platform for the Players but I'll say this, those lawyers and their report were wrong. I denied the allegations then, and do today, but I could not prove what did not happen. Very few ever believed in its authenticity except my boss at the time and even though officials were fired over it, it lives on in the Internet. I can't tell how it will affect my candidacy but I have been warned some other candidates will try to use it against me. All I can do is trust in the judgement of the Player Reps to have open minds if this is of any issue to them and I will be available to them in Hawaii in March if any would wish to discuss it."