Since the lockout ended and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed, many NFL observers have pointed to the deflated rookie contracts and the lack of new money for the veterans and opined that the NFL owners run roughshod over the players in negotiations.
The reality is probably not quite as simple as that, and even if people were upset with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and his negotiating team, that didn't stop Smith from being unanimously reaffirmed for his current position in March 2012.
As former union president Kevin Mawae said at the time, "De's our guy."
Sean Gilbert would like to change that. The former Panthers defensive lineman has written a massive 23,000-word e-book that describes why he should replace Smith as the head of the NFLPA when the next election takes place in 2015.
So, why is this happening now? Well, Gilbert told the Wall Street Journal that players “are at a point where they want change."
Gilbert points to what he believes was a trouncing by the owners in the labor negotiations, saying, the NFLPA “gave up $4.5 billion [of league revenue] with the stroke of a pen." He also believes Smith has given league commissioner Roger Goodell too much power when it comes to player discipline.
Smith has declined comment, but an NFLPA official told the paper: "The first two years of the deal show that players are getting a greater percentage of all league revenue in cash than they've ever gotten before.”
More from the Journal:
Gilbert's campaign to take over the union will begin with the e-book, which is titled "The $29 Million Tip"-- a reference to Goodell's salary in 2011. It will be distributed to each player with a personalized note from Gilbert. He says he will also speak with as many players as possible to gauge what they'd want in a new union chief.
Gilbert finished playing in 2003 but has remained involved in football, working as an adviser to his nephew, superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis … Gilbert said he became intrigued with the idea of taking over the union while studying the CBA in order to seek a contract for Revis. That, he said, made him a student of the labor process.
One idea Gilbert floats is that the players could agree to an 18-game regular-season schedule if team owners agree to knock one year off the typical four-year wait for a player to get to free agency. Gilbert said this would boost revenue by $2 billion annually. The union says they are "squarely opposed" to playing 18 games.
Just because Smith has been leading the union since 2009, Gilbert doesn't think that gives Smith a big advantage if the two were to face off in an election.
"I think at the end of the day knowledge is power," Gilbert said. "No disrespect to De Smith and everything De has accomplished, but he's actually entered into my arena."
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