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Volume 20 No. 42
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NFL Players Inc. president Gordon to depart

Keith Gordon is leaving his position as president of NFL Players Inc., and the NFL Players Association is actively searching for a replacement to head the union’s licensing and marketing arm.

Gordon, who has been president of NFLPI since August 2009, will remain in the position through the 2015 Super Bowl, which is historically a major week for the business side of the union. The NFLPA has hired Turnkey Executive Search to assist as it looks to fill his position.


Gordon said he doesn’t have a new job lined up yet, but is talking to companies about potential opportunities.

“It really boils down to two things,” Gordon said of his decision. “I have to have a better work-life balance. I have a very young family and I feel for the last six years I have given most of that time to the organization.”

Gordon and his wife, Mary, have a son, Matthew, 7, and a daughter, Mia, who is 3.

“Another part is after six years I am ready for another leadership challenge,” Gordon said.

Under his leadership, overall revenue for NFLPI, which is the revenue-generating engine of the union in addition to member dues, increased by 15 percent. Player royalties and marketing payments are up 22 percent since 2012.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith was traveling last week and unavailable for an interview, but thanked Gordon in a statement to SportsBusiness Journal.

“NFL Players Inc. is a dynamic, forward-thinking organization as a result of Keith’s vision and strategic leadership,” Smith said. “His service to players is marked by revenue growth, ground-breaking partnerships, and a healthy company culture. We thank him for his leadership, and for putting NFL Players Inc. on a path to success.”

Gordon was hired by former NFLPI Chief Operating Officer Andy Feffer as vice president of licensing in January 2009, at a time when the NFLPA was searching for a new executive director after the death of Gene Upshaw in August 2008. Smith was elected as the executive director of the NFLPA in March 2009, and promoted Gordon to president of NFLPI in August 2009.

Prior to working at NFLPI, Gordon was director of sports marketing of Phoenix-based advertising firm The Lavidge Co.

Looking back at his tenure, Gordon said he is especially proud of improving and expanding the NFL Rookie Premiere, where the top NFL rookies meet with NFL and NFLPA sponsors every year.

“One of my big pushes was to completely reinvent Rookie Premiere and turn it into an annual benchmark event,” Gordon said. “We took what was a sleepy little photo shoot for trading card companies and turned it into one of the more successful and in-demand properties of the year.”