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Player Reps Should Initiate New Search Process This Weekend

Posted March 12th, 2009 by RetiredPlayers

This weekend the NFLPA’s Board of Player Representatives will hold their annual meeting in Maui.  Obviously, the biggest task at hand for the player reps is electing a new NFLPA Executive Director.  The 32 reps are set to vote for the Gene Upshaw’s replacement after hearing one hour presentations from each candidate and then meeting with the candidates in smaller “breakout” groups.  This will be the first and only chance for player reps to hear from the candidates before casting their votes.

The search process for the next Executive Director has been extremely controversial.  An outside search firm was hired and a six member search committee narrowed the list of candidates to three.  During the process rumors have swirled around the two candidates who are former players.  There have been allegations of conflicts of interest, failed business ventures, and even criminal associations.  A congressional inquiry looked into the integrity of the NFLPA’s search process.

Image from SportsBusiness Journal

Image from SportsBusiness Journal

Joseph Yablonski, a longtime outside attorney for the NFLPA, was hired by the union to investigate alleged misconduct by former NFLPA President and Executive Director candidate Troy Vincent.  Yablonski’s objectivity has been questioned because of his 25 year relationship with the union.

“The fact that the NFLPA has hired an attorney to investigate one of the final candidate’s actions should raise red flags all over the place, including both internally and externally,” said Ian Pulver, who worked for more than a decade as the associate counsel of the NHLPA and now is an NHL agent. “The smoke signals emanating from the search process lead me to believe that the players may be wise to scrap the entire process and start over.”

In what some have viewed as dissatisfaction with the search process, attorney David Cornwell was reinstated as a candidate after receiving the endorsement of three player representatives.  Cornwell was previously eliminated as a candidate by the search committee in January.

With $8 billion dollars of NFL revenue on the line each year and 32 NFL owners determined to get concessions from the union in the next round of CBA negotiations, the players need to prove that the majority of the membership supports the next Executive Director.  NFL owners may look to take advantage of the players if they aren’t completely behind Upshaw’s replacement.

With the lack of input from the NFLPA rank-and-file, a highly criticized search process, and an incomplete investigation into one of the candidates, the NFLPA should scrap the current search.  They should start fresh with a search that includes the input of the entire membership rather than just a select few.

Allow all players to learn about the qualifications and positions of the candidates.  Recognizing what’s at stake for players, you would expect a thorough evaluation of the four candidates to last more than a weekend.

It seems the current search process has focused more on satisfying the union’s administrative staff than serving the NFLPA’s dues paying membership.  NFL owners are well aware that players have been unable to unite and stage a successful work stoppage or endure a lockout in the past.  Leadership is critical for the players, but so is their unity.  The best way to unite the players is to allow all of them access to the process to choose the best candidate.  That candidate will ultimately lead them into the next round of collective bargaining.

5 Responses to “Player Reps Should Initiate New Search Process This Weekend”

  1. comment number 1 by: George Nock

    If there was an investigation of only one candidate, then the power brokers are afraid of equity in the decision making process. They want to continue to manipulate & control the Union.

    I vote for Troy Vincent

  2. comment number 2 by: Larry Hand

    What would our Country be like if our congress made the decision eyery 4 years as to who would become President.It smelled fishy that the Player Reps who we were told taken along with their famalies to a nice Vacation each year kept One person as head of the NFL Players Association for so long. I’m not questioning his years of service and how many players benefited from his leadership, but it came at a price. If you checked compensation I wonder who made recommendations as to what was fair and reasonable? Maybe the current staff? Any way you look at all the challenges to our economy may have an impact on Professional Sports in the future. Before final decision is made make sure all areas are addresed in the search and make sure that no one person can have so much control going forward. We live in the greatest country in the world and with all it’s faults everyone needs to be given the facts bedfore a final decision is made.

  3. comment number 3 by: Bob Grant

    As a Retired Player the plain and simple truth is that you have ABSOLUTELY NO VOTE at all in Union affairs. If you have not already signed on for the upcoming Independent Summit for retired Players, please do it now. A short registeration form can be found at
    Let’s reclaim our rights? it’s going to be a great event.

    Bob Grant

  4. comment number 4 by: Bob Grant

    As a Retired Player the plain and simple truth is that you have ABSOLUTELY NO VOTE at all in Union affairs. If you have not already signed on for the upcoming Independent Summit for retired Players, please do it now. A short registeration form can be found at Dave Pear’s Blog.
    Let’s reclaim our rights? it’s going to be a great event.

    Bob Grant

  5. comment number 5 by: Steve Thurlow

    I understand that Pat Richter has done some consulting during the past few months with the NFLPA. Having played with and known Pat for the past 40 years, I believe, if interested, he would be an excellent Executive Director during this extremely crucial period. His experience as a corporate executive and Wisconsin Athletic Director as well as a law degree pale in comparison to his professionalism and integrity. He might be a perfect compromise to what appear to be questionable choices.

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