Two months after filing a formal complaint against the NFL Players Association and claiming NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith Carolina Panthers lineman Russell Okung has vowed to continue fighting the organization for which he recently campaigned to serve as president. In the wake of news that his unfair labor claim against the NFLPA was dismissed by the group's governing board, Okung has announced plans to appeal the decision and continue to "chip away at systemic corruption" among player leadership.during this offseason's collective bargaining agreement negotiations,
"The contents of my ... claim and the reality of my experience threatens the very fabric and culture of the NFLPA," Okung wrote Monday on Twitter. "Telling the truth continues to be the only weapon in the face of plainly corrupt systems and structures. As feeble and costly as this act can feel, my personal integrity is worth preserving. Ongoing gaslighting of NFL players is the modern equivalent of walking through the valley of the shadow of death; creating fear is the goal. The 'dismissal' of my claim changes nothing about the facts it contains and the reality of my experience."
Okung had alleged in his claim, filed to the National Labor Relations Board, that NFLPA leadership essentially violated its duties to player membership by sending the league's new CBA to a player-wide vote despite recommendations by the NFLPA's executive committee to renegotiate certain provisions in the agreement. Smith, in particular, Okung alleged, helped "cut members" of that executive committee "out of the process" in the lead-up to the vote, which ratified the new CBA -- through the NFL's 2030 season -- on March 15.
Okung's attorney, Peter Ginsberg, confirmed Monday that his client will appeal the dismissal of his previous claims.
"We look forward to a neutral party scrutinizing the NFLPA leadership's history of circumventing and ignoring the union's constitutional mandates," he said, per ESPN, "and failure to represent the best interests of the labor force, culminating in a flawed, disappointing Collective Bargaining Agreement and forcing out of a leadership position a person who has shown enormous courage in fighting for players' rights and protections."