DeMaurice Fitzgerald Smith is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA). Smith was appointed to his fifth three-year term by unanimous vote of the NFLPA’s Executive Committee in October 2021.
Upon his initial election, ESPN opined that he had assumed “the toughest job in all of sports,” having succeeded the late Gene Upshaw and facing the most contentious and public labor/management battles in history. He has been named one of the top ten most influential executives in sports. As Executive Director of the Player’s Union, he has negotiated two comprehensive collective bargaining agreements and is currently the longest serving Executive Director of a major sport union. As the Chief Executive Officer of the NFLPA’s for profit company Player’s Incorporated, he has guided annual revenues to over $200M and witnessed the largest growth in player’s marketing and licensing.
In March 2020, he successfully negotiated his second long-term Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Football League. The eleven-year deal introduced an additional game into the regular season and provided players with their guaranteed highest share of NFL revenue in history. The agreement improved health care, pensions, and benefits for all players; achieved a twenty percent increase in the salaries of the core players; and gave retroactive benefits to players who had previously retired without full benefits. The agreement also renewed the comprehensive transition program for NFL Players called “The Trust” and secured funding for the next ten years of research that is currently affiliated with the Harvard Football Players Health Study. Both programs provide transition and health services to former NFL Players for life. He also led the negotiations to create comprehensive Covid-19 protections and protocols for his membership, obtained comprehensive testing and opt out provisions for players, and designed the return to play agreements that secured NFL players being paid their full salary for the season despite a projected $3billion shortfall for 2020.
Prior to his election as the Executive Director, Mr. Smith was recognized as one of the best trial lawyers in the country. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia for nearly a decade and was formerly Counsel to then Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in the United States Department of Justice. Smith was awarded the U.S. Attorney’s Office highest honor for courtroom advocacy with the John H. Evans Award. In 2000, he was awarded the Department of Justice’s highest honor with the Attorney General’s Award by U.S. Attorney General Janet W. Reno. He was inducted into the prestigious American Trial Lawyers Association and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Bar Association of the District of Columbia. He served as a partner in the worldwide firms of Latham & Watkins, LLP and Patton Boggs, LLP in Washington D.C. While in private practice, he represented corporations, boards of directors, and senior executives in civil and criminal matters. He also served two terms on the Board of Governors of the District of Columbia Bar Association.
In addition to his legal accolades, Mr. Smith has been awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award, the Keeper of the Dream Award by the Action Network Alliance, the City of Justice Award by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and in 2010 he was inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges’ Hall of Excellence.
He has been featured in Fortune, Bloomberg Business, Ebony, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and The Atlantic.