Another Executive Director Candidate Emerges

Posted March 4th, 2009 by RetiredPlayers

The National Football Post reports attorney David Cornwell, who was once eliminated as a candidate for the NFLPA Executive Director position, is now back in the race.  Cornwell received the written endorsement of at least three members of the NFLPA’s Board of Representatives.  Section 4.04 of the NFLPA Constitution allows any number of candidates to be eligible for election if they have the endorsement of three player reps. The NFLPA’s six man search committee eliminated Cornwell from contention in January.

The NFLPA hired Pat Richter, a former classmate of Interim Executive Director Richard Berthelsen at the University of Wisconsin, to serve as a consultant throughout the search process.  Many feel that Berthelsen and the NFLPA’s outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler have been steering the search process toward their desired candidate.  That candidate is believed to be former NFL player Trace Armstrong.

Armstrong now works as an agent for Tom Condon at the Creative Arts Agency.  Condon served as Gene Upshaw’s agent while Upshaw was Executive Director.  Condon also sits on the NFL Disability Plan’s Board.  Armstrong is viewed as the candidate most willing to maintain the status quo of a union that has been the subject of  much criticism in the recent past.

It’s good to see some independent thinking by the NFLPA’s player representatives.  It shows that some have become dissatisfied with the current NFLPA power structure and haven’t bought into procedure of the six member search committee. The NFLPA membership has been left out of the selection process of the next Executive Director.  The candidates for the position have been unable to create a campaign platform to share with the NFLPA’s membership.  Instead, the election will take place at the NFLPA’s Annual Meeting of 32 player representatives and their alternates without the NFLPA membership ever having heard a word from any of the candidates.  For the player reps, this will be the first opportunity for many of them to hear from the candidates.

It is hard to believe that the NFLPA with over $290 million in assets would not finance a more democratic search process which included more of its membership.  The annual meeting runs March 13th to 15th in Hawaii and the election for the next Executive Director is scheduled to take place during that time.

3 Responses to “Another Executive Director Candidate Emerges”

  1. comment number 1 by: Cliff Stoudt

    I see that 27 years after the 1982 strike, it is still business as usual. The players will be at the mercy of their reps decision as they are wined and dined in Hawaii. Would it not make sense to have elections AFTER ALL PLAYERS hear all of the issues, plans, and objectives of the candidates? Would it not make sense for the players to ALL have a vote and then the player rep cast his ballot as what he is, his TEAM”S representative? One vote for each team as they vote as a team. Is that too much to ask?

    This is ancient history but let me tell you how the vote went that ended the strike in ’82. At the midnight hour of what was the last day of the strike, with the players facing a choice between accepting the agreement or voting it down and assuring the end of the season, the reps voted by to turn the final offer down and end the season by a vote (if memory serves me correctly) of 25-3.. The over zealous reps were rejoicing at their bold stance.

    But wait a minute, there were 3 votes to accept the final offer. Russel Erxlaban of the Saints, Mike Fuller of the Bengals, and myself, the rep. for the Steelers. We argued that many of the joyous player reps had voted against the wishes of their teams. Intoxicated with the idea of making a historic decision and “leave their mark” on the game, they voted to turn down the offer. One player rep had to leave town for family matters. I was there as he instructed a teammate that the team had voted unanimously to accept the vote. That player voted against it!

    The three of us had met with players from many teams. We knew that many teams that had taken votes and wanted to accept the owners last offer, but their reps chose to ignore those wishes and play God with their power, and cast their votes against the wishes of those that elected them to “represent” their team.

    After hours of what I think would be safe to call “heated arguements, it was decided that indeed, a player reps vote was to be representative of his team’s vote, NOT “HIS” VOTE. (I think this is the American way, isn’t it?) When heads cooled we took another vote, with the reps being instructed to vote as their team’s had instructed them. Amazingly, the vote passed 25-2 with one abstention. WOW!!

    In the long run, who knows whether it was right or wrong to accept or refuse the offer. But I will go to my grave believing that it was, and still is right, that a player representative has one vote and that vote must represent the wishes of their teams.

    I pray that this group of player reps, remember that as they cast their ballots. When you are dealing with players who play a very dangerous game, players who play a game that by it’s nature provides a very short career, players that have families with needs, you can not play God and take the decsions out of their hands. Give ALL players a vote and respect it.

    Dear Lord, look at the mess this country is in because power hungry politicians on both sides, have forgotten that they represent the people. We are seeing the results of what happens when our representative choose to seek their objectives and not those of the people.

    I pray that they make the right choice to lead them. I pray they ALL have a voice in that decision. As a retired player, I pray they make a decision for a leader that will keep in mind, that his players will be retired one day. That new leadership keeps in mind the needs of the retired player. That the new leadership champions the cause and importance of the players that give everything they have, mentally and physically to the game, and leave it better for those that come after them. That the leadership councils the active players about the need to improve benefits for them after they leave the game, when they truly need them.

    I pray they do what is right and do it the right way.

  2. comment number 2 by: Chuck Mercein

    I wonder if anyone knows why John Spagnola was dropped from the list of candidates for Executive Director and if there might be a chance to get his name back in the race as well. I have known “Spags” since I hired him in ’84 at First Boston, the Investment Banking firm I was with at the time, after he retired from his 10 year NFL career as a tight end, mostly with the Eagles. He is a man of very high intelligence and impeccable integrity who I think would make a great Exexutive Director. And, perhaps the best thing about him is that he not a part of the old school of executives who have been running things in the NFLPA for way too long in my opinion and in the opinions of many others I know as well.

  3. comment number 3 by: Chet Hanulak

    There is definitely a barrier that has been created between the NFL Retirees and active players. The statement “that every dollar that goes to retirees comes from the pokets of current players” is a slap in the face of the older players. Where would the NFL be today without the efforts of the older players? Players (1940-1960) basically started the NFL before the insistance, under the duress of owners, to unionize. These players played for the love of the game and not for the money. Average salary probably averaged $10,000 a season. During this period playing conditions were below par: equipment, field conditions, medical support. I would like to see a financial sheet of average earnings, showing growth of the NFL over these years starting from the 40’s to the present day. The NFL did not begin unionization, without the sacriface of many older players. A statement still bothers me deeply to this day that was stated to us by a previous director. Older players “Keep quiet or you will not receive any retirement benefits.”Attending a NFLPA players convention is financially impossible for many members (175 of 13,000). Make this strictly a business meeting, centrally located and affordable for the majority to attend. A social get together to renew old friendships would be so much more appreciated and meaningful than the high dollar entertaining events. Let us all work together for the GOOD of the NFL. The best start is to come together without discrimination. I am proud to be a member of the NFL family. Chet Hanulak Cleveland Browns 1954-1957