The NFL Players Association board of player representatives voted to retain executive director DeMaurice Smith for another term in a close vote Friday evening.
In a conference call that included the player reps from all 32 NFL teams, Smith received 22 votes in favor of him staying as executive director, just clearing the two-thirds threshold necessary to prevent him from having to run against other candidates in an open election next March. Eight of the player reps voted to remove Smith and two abstained, according to a source.
Friday’s vote became necessary after the union’s 14-member executive council voted Wednesday on the same issue and split 7-7. Per the NFLPA’s constitution, Smith needed a unanimous vote from the executive council to avoid being subjected to the vote Friday by the board of player reps.
Had he failed to secure two-thirds of Friday night’s vote (and assuming he received at least half), Smith would have been allowed to run again for his job at the union’s annual meeting in March. But per the NFLPA constitution, that election would have to be open to other candidates. Since he reached the two-thirds threshold Friday, there won’t be an open election.
The next step is for Smith, who has held the job since March of 2009 and negotiated the last two collective bargaining agreements with the league, to negotiate a new contract with the NFLPA. It’s unclear how long that contract will be, and there is nothing in the NFLPA constitution that specifies how long it must be.
The expectation, according to a source, is that this will be Smith’s final term as union executive director and that he and the rest of the NFLPA leadership will spend a portion of it working to identify and train his successor.
The executive council had long been a bastion of support for Smith, but some members — most notably Buccaneers cornerback Richard Sherman — expressed vocal opposition to the CBA that was ratified in 2020 and wanted to move on from Smith because they disagreed with the way he handled it. Players ratified the current CBA on March 8, 2020 in an extremely close vote. It runs through 2030.