Washington, D.C., attorney DeMaurice Smith was selected today as executive director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). He succeeds the late Gene Upshaw, who died in August 2008. The NFL Player Representatives unanimously chose Smith to serve a three-year term.
Smith, 45, is a trial lawyer and litigation partner at the District of Columbia law firm Patton Boggs. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Smith previously served as counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. Department of Justice.
In a press release, Smith says:
I’m humbled by their decision. I’m honored and proud to lead a great group of men. I think we understand the challenges that face us but we also understand the strength of our unity.
NFLPA President Kevin Mawae praised the choice of Smith, saying:
The Board of Player Representatives made a decision today that will chart the course of this organization. This decision is…one that will unify and strengthen the National Football League Players Association.
Smith takes over at a critical time in the NFL players’ relationship with team owners. The Washington Post reports the owners voted last year to exercise a reopener clause in their labor agreement with the players, ending the deal two years early. The agreement now expires after the 2010 season, and the 2009 season is the final one in the deal with a salary cap. The paper says Upshaw predicted before his death that the owners would consider a lockout of the players in 2011.
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