In a vote held Tuesday, the National Football League Players Association executive committee failed to approve a contract extension for union executive director DeMaurice Smith, according to two sources privy to the proceedings.
Without the required unanimous approval from the committee, Smith will now need two-thirds of the 32 player representatives to vote in favor of his extension. If Smith does not get the votes, there would be an open election for the head union job. Smith’s contract expires in March 2022. The NFLPA declined to comment on the vote.
The Tuesday vote included the 11 members of the executive committee, also known as the selection committee, plus the three longest-serving player representatives. The vote was tied, according to one source.
Smith has served as the union chief since 2009 and led the players in the lockout by the NFL owners ahead of the 2011 labor deal. His contract has been renewed three times, most recently in 2017 in a unanimous vote by the executive committee. “This union is centered on player leadership,” Smith posted on Twitter after the 2017 vote. “I am proud of their commitment, humbled by their trust in me and honored to serve. There is more work to be done.”
Smith’s inability to get unanimous support should not be a surprise, based on the most recent collective bargaining agreement. The players narrowly ratified the 2020 CBA by a razor-thin margin, 1,019 to 959, or 60 votes out of nearly 2,000 cast. The executive committee reportedly had voted 6-5 against the deal, but the full players’ rep vote narrowly approved it, which sent the deal to all players for ratification.
“This result comes after a long and democratic process in accordance with our constitution,” the NFLPA said in a statement announcing the voting result in March 2020.
The 10-year CBA included expanded the playoffs and established a 17-game season, with 48.5% of revenue earmarked for players. Many players spoke out on the safety issues of a longer season. The league quickly pounced on the assured labor peace to ink extensions with its TV partners worth $113 billion. The average franchise is worth $3.5 billion, per Sportico’s NFL valuations report last month.
Smith’s salary in recent years has hovered around $3 million, according to the union’s financial filings.