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Union awards $1 million bonus to DeMaurice Smith

Leaders of the NFL Players Association voted to award a $1 million bonus to DeMaurice Smith, the union’s executive director, for negotiating a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the league this year. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

The leaders of the NFL Players Association voted Wednesday to award a $1 million bonus to the union’s executive director, DeMaurice Smith, for negotiating a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with the league this year.

The payment was approved by the players on the union’s ruling executive committee, according to several people familiar with the deliberations.

Former NFL center Kevin Mawae, the union president, and the executive committee issued a written statement Wednesday announcing that “the Executive Committee of the NFLPA stands firmly united behind Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and what has been accomplished under his leadership. Today, we made an affirmative decision on his discretionary compensation. We look forward to having him serve our membership long into the future.”

The bonus is in addition to Smith’s salary, estimated by several people knowledgeable about Smith’s compensation to be about $2.5 million annually. Smith did not receive his salary during the 41 / 2-month NFL lockout and previously had not received any bonuses during his tenure as executive director.

His contract expires in March. Smith was elected executive director of the union in March 2009. He succeeded the late Gene Upshaw after union attorney Richard Berthelsen had served as interim executive director following Upshaw’s death in August 2008.

Several people said in recent weeks that there was strong but not unanimous support on the executive committee for awarding the bonus to Smith. There had been some sentiment for postponing a decision on the bonus.

The league and union completed their labor deal in August. Players dissolved the union in March and filed antitrust litigation against team owners, but re-formed the union as part of their deal with the league.

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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