NFLPA player reps voted, and they’ve chosen D.C. attorney DeMaurice Smith as their next executive director. Smith isn’t a former jock like two other leading candidates for the job, Trace Armstrong and Troy Vincent, but considering how listless the union has been under the leadership of former players it’s a wise step. Bob Glauber of Newsday runs down Smith’s qualifications:
Smith has held lead or “first chair” responsibility in more than 80 federal and state jury trials to verdict. He has argued numerous cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and he has defended individuals in high profile criminal cases and Congressional investigations while also representing Fortune 500 companies in criminal and complex civil cases, compliance matters, and internal investigations, according to his bio page on the Patton Boggs website.
The NFL will play the 2010 season without a salary cap, and that’s why owners are opting out of the current collective-bargaining agreement: they want to reinstiture the hard cap. The players, obviously, would prefer greater economic freedom. Considering the short career spans of NFL players (and in many instances, the short lifepans), fighting for a such a structure is wise and necessary. Finally, they have a leader with the expertise to succeed at the negotiating table. But will Smith be able to unite the players behind a cause that may entail a lengthy labor stoppage? That’s his greatest challenge.