At the NFL's scouting combine a few weeks ago, I shared an elevator with former NFL player Trace Armstrong.
"Hey, Mr. Executive Director," I said.
Armstrong smile, but cautioned, "Not so fast."
He must have known something would go wrong in his candidacy to become the executive director of the NFLPA. What went wrong is that he was too much like the late Gene Upshaw, who passed away last year.
That's a big reason why the NFLPA player reps voted DeMaurice Smith as the new executive diretor Sunday night. Armstrong was seen to be like Upshaw, while Troy Vincent, who was at odds with the pro-Upshaw group and had been rumored to be trying a coup when Upshaw was a alive, was the polar opposite. The election of one of those two could have divided the ranks.
That's why the players reps settled on Smith. He's something new. The 45-year-old lawyer has no ties to the NFL, which might be seen as a good thing as the union heads for the most important negotiations on a collective-bargaining agreement this league has ever seen.
There is a potential for a lockout in 2011, which is why Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell need to become fast friends. Everbody in the NFL is making money -- don't let the economy cuts fool you -- and it wouldn't be a wise thing to have an work stoppage. The fans love the NFL now. They can't get enough. But with so many people out of work now, can you imagine if the greed of the owners and the players put a halt to something many people use as a diversion from real life?
Here's hoping Smith can sit down with Goodell and work out a plan that is fair for both sides. The players are getting rich, the owners richer.
What's not to like?
As for Armstrong, I got the feeling that day in February that he knew he wasn't the guy. That's too bad. He would have made a heck of a leader.