A group of at least five candidates is being considered for the next executive director of the NFL Players Association, all of whom are within the football ecosystem, insiders close to the process said. If no new names emerge, that would mean unlike in 2009 when the union went outside football to pick lawyer DeMaurice Smith, his replacement as the leader of the biggest labor group in sports will arrive with insider credentials.
Smith in 2021 agreed to step aside when his fifth term ends this year and so the board of 32 team player representatives is scheduled to meet in Hawaii next month to possibly vote on a new executive director. Several people with knowledge of the situation cautioned that the vote could happen at another gathering in May or June, which might give time for new figures to enter the competition.
At a meeting in Los Angeles last week, the NFLPA’s outside executive recruiter, Russell Reynolds, presented at least five choices to the executive committee, the group of 11 players who oversee the union’s business, those with knowledge of the meeting said. The five are former Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub, Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr., NFLPA chief operating officer Teri Patterson Smith, NFLPA senior director of player affairs Don Davis, and NFLPA assistant director of external affairs George Atallah.
One insider said there is a sixth choice, former NFLPA president and current ESPN commentator Domonique Foxworth, who did not reply for comment.
“He spent months not wanting to run, then decided last minute to run,” this individual said. “He could easily decide not to run again.”
The NFLPA did not reply for comment.