NFLPA votes to retain DeMaurice Smith as executive director for another term

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DeMaurice Smith will serve at least another term as the NFL Players Association executive director.

The NFLPA’s board of representatives voted to retain Smith for another term on Friday night, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Smith received 22 votes, the minimum he needed to stay on.

Smith has held his post for 12 years. NFLPA president and Browns lineman JC Tretter said that Smith will not seek another term once this one ends.

“He was transparent with us about his interest in moving on after this term and for the stability and security of our union, he will work with our player leadership to ensure we have a succession plan in place for the next leader,” Tretter said in a statement. “De cares deeply about our union and about our players and we thank him for staying to help us secure a strong future for the NFLPA.”

Though he has been leading the union for more than a decade, there has been a strong change in attitude toward him by some players in recent years. Many were very critical of him during the last collective bargaining agreement negotiations — something that did eventually end with an extension and the addition of a 17th game to the regular season. Players passed the new CBA by just 60 votes last March.

“I shared with the players that I wanted this to be my last term as their executive director and that I wanted to stay to ensure that we have a succession plan which puts the NFLPA in the strongest possible position after I leave,” Smith said in a statement, via The Associated Press.

“From the beginning of my tenure here, my mission has been the same and the fact is that I serve at the pleasure of the players.”

Smith’s extension comes after news broke of Jon Gruden’s racist email

The news of Smith’s extension came on the heels of news that Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden used a racist trope in an email about Smith in 2011.

A Wall Street Journal report on Friday detailed an email that Gruden sent in 2011 while he was working as an analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” He reportedly sent the email to former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen.

Gruden apologized for his email on Friday, but said he doesn’t remember sending it. Gruden, who took over with the Raiders in 2018, signed a record 10-year deal with the franchise. The NFL is currently reviewing the incident and called the email “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary.” The Raiders are also reviewing the matter, and said they will address it with Gruden.

Smith slammed Gruden for his wording in the Wall Street Journal, too.

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last. This is a thick skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America,” Smith said. “You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist, just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language. … Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs.”

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