The leaders of the NFL Players Association have re-elected DeMaurice Smith as the union’s executive director, it was announced Thursday.
The union said Smith was “unanimously reaffirmed” by player representatives of NFL teams. Smith's contract was scheduled to expire this month. Contract details were not immediately available.
Smith, a D.C. attorney, was elected in 2009 to succeed the late Gene Upshaw as the union’s executive director.
It is not known how long Smith’s new contract will last. It will be negotiated with the union’s incoming executive committee, but such deals traditionally have been for three years.
Smith led the players through last year’s 4-1/2-month lockout by team owners, and later was awarded a $1 million bonus by the union’s ruling executive committee for his efforts.
In his last contract, Smith’s annual salary was estimated at about $2.5 million, according to people familiar with his compensation.
In March 2009, Smith emerged as a little-known candidate from outside the sport—and a surprising choice to some in the league—to be selected by the executive committee as Upshaw’s successor.
His relationship with the league and with the owners of the 32 NFL teams initially was rocky. But Smith gradually developed an ability to work productively with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and people on both sides of the labor dispute credited their leadership when the lockout ended with the ratification of a new 10-year labor deal.
There has been some discontent with Smith since then among some player factions, in part over how the union handled post-lockout resolutions of punishments for players who violated drug and personal conduct policies. But Smith has had the strong support of many of the players who were most actively involved in the labor negotiations. No candidate emerged emerged to opposed him for this election.
Smith and the union have been at odds with the league over the implementation of a blood-testing program for human growth hormone. The two sides agreed to that program in the labor deal. It was supposed to begin at the start of last season. But the league and union were unable to resolve their differences over the details of the tests, which still have not begun.
Talks have continued, now aimed at implementing testing by the start of next season. Some people on the management side have been convinced that resolution on HGH testing would not be reached before Smith was re-elected.