The NFLPA started the formal process of finding a successor to longtime Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith, tapping the search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to help develop a list of candidates, sources said. Last October, Smith was narrowly re-elected without having to face an open field of challengers, but the duration of his final term was left vague, ranging from anywhere from 1 to 5 years. The hiring of Russell Reynolds now suggests union leaders expect that term to be on the shorter end of that range -- though sources emphasized the timeline remains open-ended. The 11-member executive committee will discuss the matter at meetings today and tomorrow. An NFLPA spokesperson declined comment.
SMITH'S HISTORY: Smith has served since he was elected in '09 to replace Gene Upshaw, who had died the previous year. He made $2.72M in the FY ending in February, according to U.S. Labor Department reports. Smith has played a key role in two major collective bargaining agreements, but his support among players has been tenuous at times. In a preliminary vote in October, a 14-member panel of union leaders deadlocked on whether to give him another term without opposition, triggering a vote of all 32 player representatives. Smith barely met the two-thirds majority threshold -- 22-8, with two abstentions -- allowing him to win another term without competition. “He was transparent with us about his interest in moving on after this term and for the stability and security of our union, he will work with our player leadership to ensure we have a succession plan in place for the next leader,” said NFLPA President JC Tretter at the time.