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{ NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith answered your questions in an all-new feature on NFLPLAYERS.COM. }
Author: NFL Players Association Posted: 5/24/2010
  Live Chat With DeMaurice Smith (05/24/2010)
[Comment From Joe Joe : ]
Any initial reactions to American Needle?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:33 Joe
DeMaurice Smith: 
Hey Joe, we are thrilled with the ruling. I'm happy for a lot of former players like Freeman McNeil, Reggie White and others who successfully sued the NFL and won on anti-trust grounds. This one is for them.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:34 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Eric Kim Eric Kim : ]
What's the coolest thing about being Executive Director of the NFLPA?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:36 Eric Kim
DeMaurice Smith: 
The coolest thing, there are a few; I would have to say finding out that the Players that our fans love (both current and former) are just great guys.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:37 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
Guys like Cornelius Bennett, Drew Brees, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten. You know them as great competitors, but they are great teammates who give up their free time to represent them in this union.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:38 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
I'm proud of them.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:38 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From @jonathan_norman @jonathan_norman : ]
How real is the risk of lockout, from your perspective?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:39 @jonathan_norman
DeMaurice Smith: 
I think there is a substantial threat of a lockout. The NFL renegotiated the TV contracts to give them $4 billion of lockout insurance; they have renegotiaed assistant coaches contracts to envision a lockout and hired the same guy who locked out hockey for a year.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:40 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
If those were the only three things out there, it would be significant, but when you add that they have not given us anything that would suggest that teams are losing money, I have to be concerned for our fans and players that there will be a lockout.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:41 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Liz Mullen Liz Mullen : ]
What was the thing that surprised you the most about today's Supreme Court Decision in American Needle?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:42 Liz Mullen
DeMaurice Smith: 
I am still reading the decision, but thrilled that it was unanimous.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:43 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Tim Tim : ]
How are CBA negotiations going? How often are sides talking? Are the discussions around the key issues, or smaller subjects at this time?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:44 Tim
DeMaurice Smith: 
We are continuing to discuss the new CBA and I believe that we should continue and increase the pace of negotiations.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:45 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Kara Hall Kara Hall : ]
I've read that before you took the PA job that you were a Redskins fan. Is that still the case considering you represent all players?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:47 Kara Hall
DeMaurice Smith: 
Well, my parents may be watching this, so I better tell them that burgundy and gold is still the color of choice in the Smith household.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:47 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
However, I get the chance now to root for all of the players.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:48 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
I do have to tell you, there are certain player reps who love to remind me if they have beaten the 'Skins...
Monday May 24, 2010 2:49 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Kwame Kwame : ]
What are your thoughts on players wanting to renegotiate an existing contract that they have out performed? Has anyone ever proposed an arbitration system similar to MLB?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:50 Kwame
Which of these annual events gets you most excited as a fan?
NFL Draft
 ( 25% )
NFL Kickoff Weekend
 ( 17% )
Pro Bowl
 ( 8% )
Super Bowl
 ( 50% )
Monday May 24, 2010 2:51 
DeMaurice Smith: 
That is a very interesting question and as you know, we do not have such a system in the NFL; that is certainly worth taking a further look.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:52 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Ray Ray : ]
I've heard it said that once the salary cap is gone, it's not coming back. Is that true? Won't that ruin a great part of the league?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:53 Ray
DeMaurice Smith: 
The salary cap was requested by the Owners in previous CBAs and the players agreed to it. Oddly, even though we tried everything to get a deal done by the uncapped year, it is clear that the current Owners wanted to go into an uncapped year and we are now right there.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:54 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Tony Jenkins Tony Jenkins : ]
With concussions getting more and more attention these days, what is the PA currently doing to increase player safety?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:56 Tony Jenkins
DeMaurice Smith: 
We are looking at the cap numbers. So far, there are lower numbers of free-agent signings and lower amounts being spent on players. I am open to hearing what the Owners have to say about that and why (or if) they think we need a cap system where they have chosen to do without one this year.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:56 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
Our players led the change for a safer game on concussions, I think it started by the union pressing for a recognition of the validity of the studies by the NFL even though they had resisted them previously. We pushed for teams having neurophysicians available to clear players for returns to the game; pushed for more information to be given to teams about helmet designs and informed players about the long-term consequences of multiple concussions.
Monday May 24, 2010 2:58 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From @jonathan_norman @jonathan_norman : ]
How do you balance the explosion of social media growth and players' ability to communicate versus team and league oversight and/or priorities for maintaining decorum and confidentiality?
Monday May 24, 2010 2:59 @jonathan_norman
DeMaurice Smith: 
There is still a lot of work to do, but I'm interested in increasing benefits under Plan 88 for concussion-related injuries and for a better understanding of disability benefits for these long-term injuries.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:00 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
I think we have to balance every player's right of expression with what is in the best interest of the team. Like any rule, it will never be perfect, but I think it has to be constantly evaluated and balanced.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:02 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Mark Mark : ]
Do you see any agreement coming between you & the owners anytime soon?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:02 Mark
DeMaurice Smith: 
It depends on how you define soon: I'm still waiting for any financial document showing that a teams didn't average the $31 million in profit per year according to Forbes. It is tough to explain to a Player why he needs to give back $1 billion next year without any justification.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:04 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Steve Steve : ]
What reason does the league give for not providing financial data as it relates to each club?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:04 Steve
DeMaurice Smith: 
That it isn't any of our business. That they have never done it before, or that "even if they did give it to us, it wouldn't matter."
Monday May 24, 2010 3:05 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Jim Goldberg Jim Goldberg : ]
You've been there for over a year now. Looking back, anything you would've done different in your first year?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:06 Jim Goldberg
DeMaurice Smith: 
I have a hard time understanding why the NFL would at times suggest that the economy or financial hardship justifies their request for a financial rollback to the 1980s in terms of our share of all revenues -- without turning over one document that discloses profits (and or losses) of teams.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:09 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
I don't have any regrets from the first year. I was able to keep coaching my teams, but the schedule does keep one away from home a lot.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:10 DeMaurice Smith
Which of these methods do you prefer to use when following your favorite players?
Personal blog or website
 ( 0% )
Social media
 ( 67% )
Sponsorship/marketing appearances
 ( 0% )
 ( 33% )
Monday May 24, 2010 3:10 
[Comment From Tim Tim : ]
Do you feel it is inappropriate that teams have openly stated they intend to act as if the salary cap was in place even though it is an uncapped year?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:12 Tim
DeMaurice Smith: 
We are paying very close attention to the signings and the money spent (and unspent) in the uncapped year as well as watching whether there appears to any pattern to this. The owners chose an uncapped year and with it a system where a team should be free to pursue whom they want without the restrictions of a cap. It is interesting to see where we are at this point.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:14 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Jason Jason : ]
What are your thoughts on a team being or not being in Los Angeles?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:15 Jason
DeMaurice Smith: 
The Players are always interested in growing the game, and growing revenue and the prospect of new teams is always one that Players discuss from the revenue maximization perspective.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:16 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Ronan Ronan : ]
Why not take all the extra money the rookies are making and put it into a pool for retired and injured players? And you can even put some of that into a bonus system for guys who outperform their current deals.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:17 Ronan
[Comment From Kirby Diggs, Utah Kirby Diggs, Utah : ]
Are you guys going to address the rookie salary discussion? I believe that rookies are paid too much, but don't know if they should be paid on a salary scale.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:18 Kirby Diggs, Utah
DeMaurice Smith: 
In fact, we've told the Owners that if this is really about increasing the dollars available for investment that Players would be interested in discussing a new deal where they would trade salary dollars for investment/equity in the NFL. I think the Players would be excited about conversations to be part-owners of a team and it would give the NFL all of the investment capital it would want.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:18 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
The players already proposed changing every rookie contract from six years to three years. That would do two things. First, it would ensure that no one was stuck with an under-performing player for six years, and it would pull $200 million out of the draft. We said to give $100 million to retired players and guarantee that $100 million would go to proven veteran players. The NFL said no!
Monday May 24, 2010 3:21 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Mike Schottey Mike Schottey : ]
Does today's SCOTUS ruling have any baring on exclusivity deals like DirectTV and/or EA Sports--Madden?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:21 Mike Schottey
DeMaurice Smith: 
I'm only a "recovering" lawyer now, but your question raises a number of interesting collateral questions. As you know, the ruling was positioned about exclusivity and we will continue to look at potential ramifications.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:24 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Jodey Jodey : ]
What are your thoughts on a Thursday night prime time game year-round? Seems like a win for everybody.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:24 Jodey
DeMaurice Smith: 
Sorry Ronan, I missed your question. We proposed the very idea you had about rookie contracts, and the Owners rejected the guarantees to proven vets for their performance. It's a shame--that would have been an easy fix to the issue.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:25 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
I'm not sure guys who play injured every day are thrilled about a year-round schedule. One of the future guests here will be guys like Brian Dawkins, Jason Witten and Kevin Mawae. They will tell you about barely being able to walk on Mondays, and former players will tell you about hip and knee replacements at 40 years old.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:28 DeMaurice Smith
[Comment From Doug Doug : ]
What about the owners' liability? Do you feel that the risk they take as owners gives them a right to more money?
Monday May 24, 2010 3:28 Doug
DeMaurice Smith: 
The fact is, and very few fans know this, it takes you three years and three games to get just five years of post-career health care. In the NFL, you never get more than five years.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:29 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
If you play less than three years, you get no health care coverage. People tend to think that if you are hurt on the first play of your first game and stop playing, you have lifetime health care. That is not the case.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:30 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
Risk? The teams are worth 500 percent more now than they were worth 15 years ago. Last time I checked, they were not getting tuned up on kickoff coverage or suffering concussions without guaranteed lifetime health care. Their labor plays for 3.6 years. You don't have to provide any health care beyond five years if a player plays for more than three years, and you have guaranteed TV money if the games are not played. Plus, 22 of 29 stadiums were built with at least some public money.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:33 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
The Players would love to share some of that risk.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:33 DeMaurice Smith
DeMaurice Smith: 
Thank you everyone for your questions, and thank you for being such great fans. We are going to do everything to keep playing this game. No lockout.
Monday May 24, 2010 3:34 DeMaurice Smith
NFL Players Association: 
Thank you for participating in our Live Chat With DeMaurice Smith. The NFLPA is going to feature more of these chats in the future, including with some of your favorite players. Check out www.nflplayers.com/chats for a transcript of this discussion. One Team!
Monday May 24, 2010 3:34 NFL Players Association
DeMaurice Smith: 
BTW if I didn't get to answer your question today, please email "mailbag@nflplayers.com" and I will get back to you. Best, DFS
Monday May 24, 2010 3:35 DeMaurice Smith

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