In a historic move, seven candidates will be opposing incumbent DeMaurice Smith for executive director of the NFL Players Association when the next vote comes in March.
NFLPA president Eric Winston provided the list of nominees:
Bleacher Report's Jason Cole also pointed out some necessary background on the situation:
Sean Gilbert has been an outspoken critic of Smith for a long time. Specifically, the former defensive tackle said in his formal platform released Tuesday he wants to completely overhaul the collective bargaining agreement that was agreed to in 2011 and plans to use an 18-game regular season as the "carrot" to get the owners open to transferring more of the money to players.
Jim Acho comes from a legal background as a lawyer in Detroit. According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Acho has drawn support from players for his past work with pension and benefits:
Acho has worked actively to improve pension and medical benefits for retired players for years – he was instrumental in creating the "88 Plan," which assists retired players with dementia – and a group of current and former NFL stars, including ex-Michigan standouts Larry Foote, LaMarr Woodley and Mike Martin, is supporting his NFLPA campaign.
Former NFL punter and Navy Admiral John Stufflebeem told Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily that he's running on a platform of rebuilding trust and communication between the players and owners.
"The No. 1 priority coming out of this election of the executive director is building a positive working relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA, based on mutual respect," Stufflebeem said. "I don't think that exists today."
There's no doubt that leading the NFLPA has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Smith's tenure has been marred by a lot of dissonance between commissioner Roger Goodell and the players.
Everything from player discipline to retirement benefits has been an issue for the league in recent years. Smith has been leading the NFLPA through it all.
Smith will have every chance to retain his job when the vote takes place next month, but the stiff competition from outside will make things very interesting.