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Smith Leads NFL Players Association

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The National Football League Players Association announced DeMaurice Smith ’89 has been named the new NFL Players Association Executive Director. NFLPA Player Representatives acting on behalf of the 32 NFL teams selected Smith to succeed the late Gene Upshaw, who died in August. Smith becomes only the third executive director in NFLPA history and will serve a three-year term.

“I’m humbled by their decision. I’m honored and proud to lead a great group of men,” Smith said. “I think we understand the challenges that face us but we also understand the strength of our unity.”

The NFLPA’s constitution requires that the executive director be elected by a majority of the members of the Board of Player Representatives. Smith was unanimously elected to the position.

Smith was selected from among three other finalists for the position: former NFLPA presidents Trace Armstrong and Troy Vincent, and sports attorney David Cornwell. The four finalists were given the opportunity to speak directly to the 70 player representatives and alternates. They then met with player reps in smaller break-out sessions before the official election took place.

“The Board of Player Representatives made a decision that will chart the course of this organization,” NFLPA President Kevin Mawae said. “This decision is a legacy decision. It is one that will unify and strengthen the National Football League Players Association.”

Smith, 45, had been a trial lawyer and litigation partner at Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C. He has defended individuals in high profile criminal cases and Congressional investigations while also representing Fortune 500 companies in criminal and complex civil cases, compliance matters, and internal investigations. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Smith previously served as counsel to then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder in the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Inside or outside of the courtroom, DeMaurice Smith is a superstar,” said Stuart M. Pape ’73, managing partner of Patton Boggs. “The sharp intelligence, striking eloquence and intense dedication that make him the outstanding lawyer that he is, will certainly serve the NFL players well. They are very wise to have elected such an impressive leader. We are extremely happy for him and wish him all the best in his exciting new endeavor. We will miss him as a colleague, but even more as a friend.”

Smith, who is married with two children, will begin his term with the NFLPA immediately and will work out of the Association’s Washington, D.C. office.