DeMaurice Smith Is Re-Elected as Head of NFL Players Union

DeMaurice Smith was re-elected executive director of the National Football League Players Association, selected over eight challengers in a vote of player representatives from the league’s 32 teams.

The voting was conducted in Hawaii, with a majority of the 32 player reps required for election.

“I am proud to represent the best athletes in the world,” DeMaurice Smith said in a statement.

Smith, 51, has headed the NFLPA since 2009, when the former assistant U.S. attorney was voted in seven months after Gene Upshaw died of pancreatic cancer. Smith ran unopposed when he received another three-year term in 2012.

Smith helped oversee the negotiations in 2011 that led to the NFL’s current 10-year labor agreement and ended a four-month lockout. Since then, the cap on team player payrolls has risen from $120 million to $143.3 million this year.

Former NFL player Sean Gilbert was among the challengers to Smith and vowed to try to overturn the collective bargaining agreement, contending it will cost the players $10 billion by the time it ends in 2021, according to Sports Illustrated.

There’s also been a growing rift between the NFL and the players union because of the way league commissioner Roger Goodell has handed down discipline for violations of the personal-conduct policy. Smith has at times been critical of the NFL and said in November there shouldn’t be a gap between the players and the league office.

“The Board of Player Representatives made a decision today after two comprehensive days of deliberation and careful consideration of all candidates,” NFLPA President Eric Winston said in the statement. “We look forward to continue working with DeMaurice Smith to make our union stronger.”

Two other ex-NFL players, Jason Belser and Robert Griffith, were candidates to replace Smith, as were Jim Acho, Rob London, Arthur McAffe, John Shufflebeam and Andrew Smith.

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