-- The NFL Players Association has changed procedures for electing its executive director, creating the possibility that current leader DeMaurice Smith could be reappointed without challengers this fall, according to a Washington Post report confirmed by ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Union rules now call for a selection committee to vote by Oct. 15 on whether to extend Smith's contract, which expires in March 2018. If approved by all 14 members of the committee, Smith will continue as executive director for another term. The job will not be declared "open" unless less than half of the committee votes its approval.
Before this year, the NFLPA's top job was largely open to all challengers. Smith, in fact, was re-elected in 2015 against eight other candidates on the ballot. The large and unwieldy field prompted the procedural changes, which had not been publicized before Sunday.
Last week, civil rights attorney Cyrus Mehri became the first publicly declared candidate for Smith's job. Mehri, who co-wrote the NFL's Rooney Rule, said he thinks the NFLPA "went backwards economically in a massive way" with the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Mehri also said that Smith gave NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "a blank check" on player discipline.
But Mehri might not have a chance to be on the ballot, depending on the outcome of this fall's vote.
"It is ironic in a league where players have to compete every single day," Mehri told the Post, "that De Smith is afraid of competition. NFL players deserve better."
Smith was first elected in 2009 and was responsible for negotiating the current CBA. He said earlier this month that he expects a work stoppage when the deal expires in 2021.