Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 26 No. 209
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

DeMaurice Smith Embraces Combative Style In NFL CBA Talks

Smith, a former trial lawyer in DC, has led the NFLPA for more than a decade
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Smith, a former trial lawyer in DC, has led the NFLPA for more than a decade
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Smith, a former trial lawyer in DC, has led the NFLPA for more than a decade
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NFLPA Exec Dir DEMAURICE SMITH has been in his role for over 10 years now, and "most everything" about his tenure can be "credibly debated -- and often is," according to a profile by Kent Babb of the WASHINGTON POST. Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT said of the former trial lawyer, "He’s very sound. He knows the game. He understands economics. He’s very intelligent." But Babb asked, "Is he a blustering rabble-rouser leading an unwinnable charge, or is his refusal to cede any ground, his reluctance to peacefully coexist with his adversaries, to evade conflict -- even, occasionally, against the 2,000 men he represents -- precisely what the union needs at a time when players’ voices are stronger than ever?" Smith said, "I'm kind of wired to be combative." Smith "insists he nonetheless respects" NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL as an "opponent and that their relationship has, as he puts it, 'evolved.'" As for whether he trusts Goodell, Smith said, "He and [the NFL] are formidable. I mean, they’re like Russia, right? They’re like old Russia. You can control the machinery of industry and at the same time have absolute control over the press that I would argue no other business in America has. So they’re formidable, and they’re dangerous.” Smith is "likable, funny, passionate -- but the man overflows with bravado, and his job in fact calls for a certain ability not just to tell stories but to sell players on topics and their urgency: brain injuries, the damaging effects of the painkiller Toradol, a work stoppage that might never happen" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/20).