NFLPA Crisis: Players Call for Ouster of Gene Upshaw

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer IApril 9, 2008

The rank and file of the NFLPA has slowly begun to turn on Union President Gene Upshaw.

Not all of the players have turned against Upshaw, but enough to make the next collective-bargaining agreement between the owners and the players a harrowing one.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover sent an e-mail to other player representatives calling for the immediate ouster of Upshaw. He called for this to be done before they sit down with the owners later this year to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement.

That appears to be a certainty for November.  It is well known that the owners are unhappy with the current agreement—which gives the players 60 percent of the revenue—and are ready to exercise their opt-out clause in November. This will send both sides back to the negotiating table.

Stover does not want Upshaw at the head of the table for the union at those negotiations in fear of the possible reduction or roll back of the players' share of the revenue.

Others, such as Tennessee center Kevin Mawae, are openly supportive of Upshaw.

Skip Bayless of ESPN has cited that the owners may be behind the release of the e-mail (which was not intended to be viewed by the public) to drive a wedge in the already fragile union.

Bayless also stated that this is the first—and maybe the beginning—of anti-Upshaw sentiments by union members. They are also resentful of the large salary he is paid ($7 million to $11 million annually, depending on who you ask). 

Upshaw came under fire last year for the union's treatment of retired players. He, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, spearheaded an effort recently to rectify that issue by implementing new policies.

Upshaw had fallen out of favor with many union members because he is perceived to be too soft at the negotiating table, and too accommodating when it comes to the owners' initiatives. He appeared to be back in good graces with the NFLPA membership after scoring 60 percent of the revenue from the owners in the last agreement.

Now, that agreement may be rescinded.  This will unfold first as an internal battle within the union, and after they settle that, they will lock horns with the owners.

Will this result in a work stoppage?  Probably not, but you never can tell.

Either way, there is little chance that Upshaw will survive.