Quick: What is DeMaurice Smith’s job title? What is his official role?
Technically, Smith is the executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association.
Technically, the National Football League Players’ Association doesn’t exist.
In a ploy to gain leverage, the NFLPA decertified on March 11. The litigation that has followed that move involves Smith, but only because he is the figurehead that has pioneered this labor rebellion.
As the work stoppage ages — welcome to Day 71 — the gap that separates Smith’s ambitions from the ambitions of the 1,900-odd players he loosely represents will continue to widen.
Smith has no reason to crack. The king of rhetoric is too stubborn to give in to the league, and while his stubborn nature is a prerequisite for such a role, it’s eventually going to cost his players too much money to justify their stance.
One agent who represents 45 players is beginning to suspect what I’m getting at: if the players were to vote right now, they might actually accept what the owners are requesting. Joe Linta wants to see the league’s latest offer.
“I’d like to see it myself so when I talk to my 45 guys, I can show them what it is — since there is no union,” Linta told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I would like Mr. Rooney to forward the offer to me. I represent two percent of the union, I’m not insignificant. Let me ask you something, who has the players’ back more, the players union or the player’s agent? Why can’t I get copy of this and disseminate it to my players?”
Smith’s mission was never completely aligned with the players he represented. And as those players grow more desperate to get on the field and get paid as the window closes on their careers, more of them will hopefully realize that Smith’s presence isn’t pertinent to accomplishing that goal.
In fact, it’s detrimental.
“These guys are driving these players right off a cliff right now,” said Linta, referring to Smith and his cohorts.
He’s right. Now it’s up to the players to either take the wheel before it’s too late.