Video has surfaced showing NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith testifying before Congress in 2009 that the NFLPA “will not bargain for basic provisions of the law as patients. . . medical care is not and will never be just a collective bargaining issue.” Mr. Smith continued, “I acknowledge that the players union in the past has not done is best. We will do better.” The video was posted on Twitter by user @RzstProgramming who has developed a reputation online for uncovering archival footage exposing powerful interests.
The 2009 testimony given by DeMaurice Smith appears to have been misleading and false as it has been alleged that the NFLPA bargained away disability benefits for retired disabled players under the current CBA. The NFLPA has allegedly referred to the reduction in disability benefits and changes to the definition of what constitutes “disability” as “small concessions” that had to be made to the NFL owners.
The new CBA which purportedly passed by a slim 60 vote margin on March 15, 2020 has come under intense fire for its treatment of retired disabled players.
Critics have attacked the process by which the CBA was rushed for a vote during the pandemic, especially since the CBA was not set to expire for another year and the NFLPA’s own Executive Committee voted against the CBA 7-4 and did not want it to go to a full vote. Voting members, which did not include retired disabled players, were given a copy of the 456 page CBA on March 5, 2020 without any meaningful guidance or support. When players discovered defects in the CBA and requested to have their votes changed, the NFLPA refused.
Additionally, in a stunning admission, the NFLPA recently acknowledged that it changed language in the CBA after the vote concluded, adding a subparagraph that reduced disability benefits to players who applied for disability before January 1, 2015. The NFLPA has argued that it was entitled to make this change because it was “not substantive,” causing NFL legend Shannon Sharpe to suggest that NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith should be fired or resign.
It is not yet known if there will be any legal ramifications if it is determined that the NFLPA and its Executive Director misled Congress or whether Congress will hold further hearings on these issues. Stay tuned.