DeMaurice Smith: "Voice of the Players"......or not.
There’s nothing better than sitting back and watching a “fresh approach” to something go horribly wrong. Unfortunately, this new way of doing things, otherwise known as DeMaurice Smith, is directly impacting me -- an NFL fan who thoroughly enjoys the sport 365 days a year. In 2009, upon the sudden passing of Gene Upshaw, Smith was elected president of the NFLPA. It was seen as a surprise by many, a solution to the union’s sudden need for a change. So much for that change being positive. What the NFLPA got was a Washington-based attorney, a trial lawyer who represented Fortune 500 companies, rubbed elbows with President Barack Obama, and knows his way around Capitol Hill with his eyes closed. What they didn’t get was someone who had even the slightest clue about the world of the NFL, let alone the mind of a professional football player. It was obvious that his business experience trumped his football experience. Unfortunately for players and fans the ramifications of his hiring are being showcased loud and clear right now. Surprisingly enough, I’ve stayed fairly quiet regarding my opinions on the current lockout. I’ve kept an optimistic view that the two parties shared one common goal: to get back to playing football. But after seeing Smith’s comments Monday it’s clear to me that this poor excuse for a leader is largely responsible for the lack of football in my life. Someone might want to warn Mr. Smith that it’s really not a wise choice to get in the way of me and my football. Smith is out of his league. Last I checked he’s no labor attorney. He’s a trial lawyer with no labor law experience whatsoever. If Upshaw could walk out of his grave right now I bet he would. Upshaw had a great relationship with NFL owners and commissioner at the time Paul Tagliabue. Don’t think for one second that the efforts put into establishing that relationship weren’t a key reason why the last labor fight was a short, less dramatic one. The NFLPA is now in more of a mess than their “fearless” leader even cares to realize. It’s obvious that Smith cares more about good sound bites and extra face time on national television then actually facing the reality of the situation at hand. The man wants to make his mark in NFL history and he thinks that trudging this matter in courtroom after courtroom is the way to do it. I don’t need law experience to know that new collective bargaining agreements don’t get done in courtrooms. Smith needs to stop making things personal. Enough already with the redundant, arrogant and hard-balled rhetoric that has completely undermined any efforts to reach a new deal. Cut the asinine “This is war” comments and go back to Capitol Hill where you belong. I wouldn’t be surprised if the players, themselves, are questioning whether this man has their best interests in mind, but it’s too late now. So, to quote the man of the hour himself: “Congratulations,” DeMaurice. You are singlehandedly turning off many fans that were once favoring the side of the players and have ruined what was once one of the best player/owner relationships in all sports. Unfortunately, I’m not holding my breath for a new deal anytime soon -- that is as long as I continue to see your mug behind that podium