National Football League Players Association

The National Football League Players Association, or NFLPA, is the labor organization representing the professional American football players in the National Football League (NFL). The NFLPA, which has headquarters in Washington, D.C., is led by president Eric Winston and executive director DeMaurice Smith. Founded in 1956, the NFLPA was established to provide players with formal representation to negotiate compensation and the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The NFLPA is a member of the AFL–CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States.[2]

In the early years of the NFL, contractual negotiations took place between individual players and management; team owners were reluctant to engage in collective bargaining. A series of strikes and lockouts have occurred throughout the union's existence largely due to monetary and benefit disputes between the players and the owners. League rules that punished players for playing in rival football leagues resulted in litigation; the success of such lawsuits impelled the NFL to negotiate some work rules and minimum payments with the NFLPA. However, the organization was not recognized by the NFL as the official bargaining agent for the players until 1968, when a CBA was signed. The most recent CBA negotiations took place in 2011.

In addition to conducting labor negotiations, the NFLPA represents and protects the rights of the players; the organization's actions include filing grievances against player discipline that it deems too severe. The union also ensures that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement are adhered to by the league and the teams. It negotiates and monitors retirement and insurance benefits and enhances and defends the image of players and their profession.

NFLPA logo
Full nameNational Football League Players Association
Members2,166 ("active player" and "associate" members)
3,130 ("former player" members) (2014)[1]
Key people
Office locationWashington, D.C.
CountryUnited States


The establishment of the National Football League in 1920 featured early franchises haphazardly formed and often saddled with financial difficulties, poor player talent and attendance rates.[3] As the league expanded through the years, players were provided with no formal representation and received few, if any, benefits.[4] In 1943, Roy Zimmerman's refusal to play an exhibition game without compensation resulted in his trade from the Washington Redskins to the Philadelphia Eagles.[5] With the formation of the competing All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946, NFL owners instituted a rule which banned a player for five years from NFL-associated employment if he left the league to join the AAFC.[6]

Bill Radovich, an offensive lineman, was one player who "jumped" leagues; he played for the Detroit Lions in 1945 and then joined the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC after the team offered him a greater salary.[6] Subsequently, Radovich was blacklisted by the NFL and was denied a tryout with the NFL-affiliated San Francisco Seals baseball team of the Pacific Coast League. Unable to attain a job in either league, Radovich filed a lawsuit against the NFL in 1956.[6] The case, Radovich v. National Football League,352 U.S. 445 (1957) made its way to the United States Supreme Court in January 1957, with the court ruling that the NFL constituted a business under American antitrust law and did not enjoy the same immunity accorded to Major League Baseball.[7] This ruling "set the foundation for a series of court battles" over compensation and employment conditions.[8]

Initial organizing phase (1956-1967)

The NFLPA began when two players from the Cleveland Browns, Abe Gibron and Dante Lavelli, approached a lawyer and former Notre Dame football player, Creighton Miller, to help form an association to advocate for the players.[9] Miller was initially reluctant but accepted in 1956. He contacted Don Shula (a Baltimore Colts player at the time), Joe Schmidt of the Detroit Lions, Frank Gifford and Sam Huff of the New York Giants, and Norm Van Brocklin of the Los Angeles Rams to aid in the development of the association.[4][10]

By November 1956 a majority of the players signed cards allowing the NFLPA to represent them.[4] Players for 11 of the 12 teams in the league voted to join the new association, with the Chicago Bears being the sole holdout.[7]

An initial meeting was convened at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in November 1956 where players decided on demands to be submitted to league commissioner Bert Bell.[4] One particularly sore point involved the lack of compensation for training camp and preseason exhibition games; while owners charged admission and benefitted from a lucrative series of preseason games, no contract payment was made until a player made a regular season roster.[11][12] Players would work for up to eight weeks, risking season- or career-ending injury without pay.

The new association's initial agenda also included a league-wide minimum salary, plus a per diem when teams were on the road, a requirement that uniforms and equipment be paid for and maintained at the clubs' expense, and continued payment of salaries when players were injured.[4] The NFLPA hoped to meet with Bell during the owners' meeting in January 1957 to discuss the demands; however, no meeting took place.[4]

The owners, for their part, were immediately antagonistic to the concept of a player's union — a position epitomized when Miller, then an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns, was removed from the team's annual photo at the insistence of head coach and general manager Paul Brown.[13] Miller and other union founders were taken aback by Paul Brown's staunch view that "it was both just and necessary that management could cut, trade, bench, blackball, and own in perpetuity anyone and everyone that it wanted".[14]

Miller continued to represent the NFLPA in their early days.[15] Unable to win the owners' attention by forming the union, the NFLPA threatened to bring an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The antitrust laws are meant to protect "free and fair competition in the marketplace" and prohibit practices that may give industries or businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors.[16]

Rather than face another lawsuit, the owners agreed to a league minimum salary of $5,000, $50 for each exhibition game played, and medical and hospital coverage.[17] Although most of the NFLPA's requests were met, the owners did not enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the association or formally recognize it as the players' exclusive bargaining representative, instead agreeing to change the standard player contract and alter governing documents to reflect the deal.[18]

From the inception of the NFLPA, its members were divided over whether it should act as a professional association or a union. Against the wishes of NFLPA presidents Pete Retzlaff and Bernie Parrish, Miller ran the association as a "'grievance committee'" rather than engaging in collective bargaining.[18] The standard collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is a contract between organized workers and management that determines the wages and hours worked by employees and can also determine the scope of one's work and what benefits employees receive.[19] The association continued to use the threat of antitrust litigation over the next few years as a lever to gain better benefits, including a pension plan and health insurance.[17]

In the 1960s the NFL also faced competition from the new American Football League (AFL).[20] NFL players viewed the new league as potential leverage for them to improve their contracts. The NFL tried to discourage this idea by changing the owner-controlled pension plan to add a provision saying that a player would lose his pension if he went to another league.[17]

On January 14, 1964, players in the newer league formed the AFL Players Association, and elected linebacker Tom Addison of the Boston Patriots as president.[21] Rather than working with the AFLPA, the NFLPA chose to remain apart and tried to block the merger between the two leagues in 1966, though lack of funding prevented it from mounting a formal challenge. With the merger complete, the players could no longer use the leverage of being able to sign with an AFL team to attain more money.[17]

Parrish, upset with the ineffectiveness of the association, proposed forming a players' union, that would be independent of the NFLPA, with the assistance of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).[17] The IBT pushed for the NFLPA to join the trucking union.[22] In early November 1967, Parrish, with support from former Cleveland Browns player Jim Brown, began distributing union cards to form a Teamsters affiliate known as the American Federation of Pro Athletes.[23] The NFLPA rejected the overture at its meeting in Hollywood, Florida, during the first week of January 1968 and declared itself an independent union.[24] Although Parrish's proposal was defeated, Miller left his position as counsel to the union.[25][26] He was later replaced by two Chicago labor lawyers, Dan Schulman and Bernie Baum.[17]

Recognition and certification (1968–1983)

Six months after the NFLPA declared itself an independent union, many players were dissatisfied with the lack of compensation teams provided and voted to strike on July 3, 1968, after official discussions with the owners stalled. The owners countered by declaring a lockout.[27] By July 14, 1968, the brief work stoppage came to an end.[28] Although a CBA resulted, many players felt that the agreement did not net them as many benefits as they had hoped.[17] The owners agreed to contribute about $1.5 million to the pension fund with minimum salaries of $9,000 for rookies, $10,000 for veterans and $50 per exhibition game; there was at yet no neutral arbitration for disputes.[17]

As the merger of the AFL and NFL became effective in 1970, the unions agreed to meet for the first time in January of that year.[17] The NFL players wanted Ed Meador—who was the president-elect of the NFLPA prior to the merger—to become president of the newly combined association while the AFL players wanted Jack Kemp.[29] The compromise was John Mackey of the Baltimore Colts, an NFL team before the merger, which was grouped with former AFL teams in the American Football Conference. The AFL players agreed to Mackey's election on the condition that former AFL player Alan Miller would become general counsel.[17][30] Though the NFL owners were open to recognizing the union, their representatives requested lawyers not be present during negotiations, something the players were unwilling to agree to. This prompted the players to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for union certification.[17]

The players went on strike on July 13, 1970, after the owners locked them out for a brief period. The strike lasted for two days ending with a new four year CBA which was reached after the owners threatened to cancel the season.[17] Due to the new agreement, the union won the right for players to bargain through their own agents with the clubs, and minimum salaries were increased to $12,500 for rookies and $13,000 for veterans. Also, players' pensions were improved and dental care was added to the players' insurance plans. Players also gained the right to select representation on the league's retirement board and the right to impartial arbitration for injury grievances.[17] Following the 1970 agreement, many union representatives were released by their teams. Unfazed, the players were determined to create a stronger union through better communication.[17] Attorney Ed Garvey was hired by the NFLPA in 1971 to act as their first executive director, and the NFLPA became officially certified as a union by the NLRB the same year. Headquarters were established in Washington, D.C. and a campaign was launched to help inform players of their rights.[17]

1974 strike

The NFLPA challenged the so-called "Rozelle Rule" as a violation of federal antitrust laws in a lawsuit filed by president John Mackey and allied union leaders in 1971.[31] The rule, named after commissioner Pete Rozelle, allowed the commissioner to award compensation, which included players, to a team losing a free agent if both the signing team and the team the player was departing could not come to an agreement on compensation.[32] This rule limited player movement, as few teams were willing to sign high-profile free agents only to risk having their rosters raided.[33] With the 1970 CBA agreement set to expire, the players went on strike on July 1, 1974. In addition to the "Rozelle Rule", the players demanded the elimination of the option clause, impartial arbitration of disputes, elimination of the draft and waiver system and individual, rather than uniform contracts.[17]

The strike lasted until August 10, 1974 when the players returned to training camp without a new CBA, instead choosing to pursue free agency through the Mackey lawsuit filed three years before.[31][N 1] While the courts ruled in favor of the players in 1976, the union found that making progress in bargaining was more difficult to achieve.[8] The Rozelle Rule was invalidated by the court which found it constituted a refusal to deal and was therefore in violation of the Sherman Act as it deterred franchises from signing free agents.[32] However, the change did not achieve true free agency as compensation remained tied to draft picks that were awarded based on the salary of the departing free agent and teams still maintained a right of first refusal.[8] The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement in March 1977 that ran until 1982.[31]

1982 strike

The 1982 NFL strike began on September 21, 1982, and lasted 57 days, ending on November 16, 1982.[31][34] During this time, no NFL games were played. The strike occurred because the union demanded that a wage scale based on percentage of gross revenues be implemented. The NFLPA wanted the percentage to be 55 percent, and according to the Los Angeles Times, this demand "dominated the negotiations."[35]

During the strike, the NFLPA promoted two "AFC-NFC 'all-star' games."[36] One was held at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. on October 17, 1982, and the second was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum a day later.[36] One of the few stars who did play, future Hall of Fame running back John Riggins, explained "I guess I'll do just about anything for money."[36] Despite a local TV blackout and ticket prices starting at six dollars, neither game drew well; only 8,760 fans attended in Washington, D.C., and just 5,331 attended in Los Angeles.[36] With no NFL games to air, CBS replayed the previous Super Bowl and aired Division III football; Pat Summerall and John Madden, for example, covered a game between Baldwin Wallace and Wittenberg. NBC acquired the rights to Canadian Football League games from ESPN, and aired them with NFL-like production values; the first four games it showed were all blowouts, however, with poor ratings, and the network gave up.[37]

The 1982 strike ended with a players' revolt against their own union, as some members suggested that Garvey step down as executive director.[38] As a result of the strike, the season schedule was reduced from 16 games to 9 and the playoffs expanded to 16 teams (eight from each conference) for a "Super Bowl tournament."[39] A new five-year agreement was ratified, providing severance packages to players upon retirement, an increase in salaries and post-season pay, and bonuses based on the number of years of experience in the league. Additionally, the NFLPA was allowed to receive copies of all player contracts.[40]

Gene Upshaw era (1983–2008)

In 1983, former Oakland Raider Gene Upshaw became the executive director of the NFLPA.[41] During his tenure, he oversaw a player strike, several antitrust lawsuits, and the collective bargaining agreement of 1993.

The NFLPA went on strike for a month in 1987 upon the expiration of the 1982 CBA; the league's free-agent policy was the major matter in dispute.[42] This time, however, the strike only canceled one week of the season. For three weeks, the NFL staged games with hastily assembled replacement teams,[31][43] made up principally of players cut during training camp and players left out of work from the closure of the United States Football League two years prior (along with, to a lesser extent, the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, who had folded just three months prior to the strike). They were joined by a few veterans who crossed the picket lines,[31] including New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Randy White, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie, and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent.[43]

Given the willingness of the players to cross the picket lines and networks to broadcast the replacement games, despite a 20% drop in television viewership and even steeper drops in attendance, the union failed to achieve their demands. The strike ended on October 15, 1987, without a collective bargaining agreement in place.[44][45] The union filed a new antitrust lawsuit on December 30 asking federal judge David Doty to overturn the league's restricting free agent policies.[31]

On November 1, 1989, the Court of Appeals rejected the suit on the grounds that the owners were covered by the labor exemption from antitrust law.[31] The union's next tactic, in November 1989, was to disclaim any interest in representing NFL players in collective bargaining and to reform itself as a professional organization. Having done that, individual players, led by Freeman McNeil of the New York Jets, brought a new antitrust action, challenging the NFL's so-called "Plan B" free agency, which gave teams a right of first refusal to sign a player, as an unlawful practice under the antitrust acts.[31][46]

The players ultimately prevailed after a jury trial on their claims. That verdict, the pendency of other antitrust cases and the threat of a class action lawsuit filed by Reggie White, then with the Philadelphia Eagles, on behalf of all NFL players caused the parties to settle the antitrust cases and to agree on a formula that permitted free agency.[31] In return, the owners received a salary cap, albeit one tied to a formula based on the players' share of total league revenues. The agreement also established a salary floor—minimum payrolls all teams were obliged to pay.[47] The settlement was presented to and approved by Judge Doty, who had also heard the McNeil antitrust case in 1993. Once the agreement was approved, the NFLPA reconstituted itself as a labor union and entered into a new collective bargaining agreement with the league. The NFLPA and the league extended the 1993 agreement five times. The final extension came in March 2006 when it was extended through the 2010 season after the NFL owners voted 30–2 to accept the NFLPA's final proposal.[31]

DeMaurice Smith era (2009–present)

Following the death of Gene Upshaw in 2008, Richard Berthelsen was named interim executive director, serving from August 2008 until March 2009.[48] The NFLPA Board of Representatives elected DeMaurice Smith for a three-year term as the executive director on March 16, 2009.[49] Smith has been largely praised for his work ethic by the media, current and former players and colleagues as director[50] and for making the union more professional despite the resentment of some players who found his leadership style to be too controlling.[51] Smith's contract was renewed for an additional three years in March 2012.[52] He was elected for a third term in March 2015.[53] The major issue of Smith's tenure has been the 2011 lockout;[54] former offensive lineman Chester Pitts praised Smith for fiercely fighting for the players' rights during negotiations.[51]

2011 lockout

In May 2008, the owners decided to opt out of the 1993 arrangement, per the agreement with the players, with the termination to follow a year with no salary cap in 2010.[55] By the CBA's expiration in March 2011, the NFLPA and the NFL had not yet come to terms on a new agreement. The owners were expected to lock out the players upon termination of the agreement. However, the NFLPA filed papers to decertify as a union on March 11, 2011, and filed an antitrust suit to enjoin the lockout with lead plaintiffs quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees.[56] U.S. District Court judge Susan Richard Nelson granted the players' request to end the owners' lockout on April 25.[57] The league asked Nelson to stay the order while they appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals; Nelson refused.[58] On April 29, the Eighth Circuit granted the league a temporary stay of Nelson's ruling; the league reinstated the lockout the same day.[59] The Eighth Circuit vacated Nelson's ruling on July 8, affirming the legitimacy of the lockout.[60] During the lockout, players were barred from using team facilities and contacting team coaches; many organized their own workout regimens.[61]

The parties settled the lawsuit on July 25, 2011, and a majority of players signed union authorization cards.[62] The NFL officially recognized the NFLPA's status as the players' collective bargaining representative on July 30, 2011.[63] The NFL and NFLPA proceeded to negotiate terms for a new collective bargaining agreement, and the agreement became effective after ratification by the players August 4, 2011.[64] Under the agreement, which runs through 2021, revenue sharing, the most contentious issue during the lockout, was re-designed so that the players must receive at least 47% of all revenue in salary for the term of the agreement. Additionally, a limit was placed on the amount of money given to rookies. Fifty million dollars was set aside annually for medical research and approximately $1 billion would be set aside for retired player benefits over the life of the agreement.[65][66][67]


The NFLPA, on behalf of Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, three players suspended due to the Bountygate investigation by the NFL, filed a lawsuit against the league. The investigation found that New Orleans Saints players were allegedly paid bonuses for hits that injured opposing players. The players' lawsuit claimed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell "had violated the league's labor agreement by showing he had pre-determined the guilt of the players punished in the bounty probe before serving as the arbitrator for their June 18 appeal hearing".[68] The suspensions were unanimously overturned by a three-member appeals panel; however, the ruling did not permanently void their suspensions.[69] The NFL appointed former commissioner Paul Tagliabue to review the NFL's sanctions against the players, which he overturned.[70]

New drug policy

The league and the NFLPA approved updated substance abuse and performance-enhancing substance policies in September 2014.[71] The regulations include human growth hormone testing and amended rules on DUIs[71] and marijuana.[72] Third-party arbitration will handle appeals.[71] The deal lifted suspensions for some players the week it was approved.[71] The NFL began testing players for HGH the next month.[73]


Total membership (US records)[74]

Finances (US records; ×$1000)[74]
     Assets      Liabilities      Receipts      Disbursements

According to NFLPA's Department of Labor records since 2006, when membership classifications were first reported, around 60%, or almost two thirds, of the union's membership are classified as "former players," and not eligible to vote in the union, "because, as a matter of federal law, they cannot be members of the collective bargaining unit." The other, voting eligible, classifications are "active players" and "associates."[74] As of 2014 this accounts for 3,130 "former player" members (59% of total), 1,959 "active players" (37%), and 207 "associate" members (4%).[1]


The current president of the NFLPA is Eric Winston and the executive director is DeMaurice Smith. As of 2017, the executive committee consists of the following current and retired NFL players: Adam Vinatieri, Benjamin Watson, Brian Waters, Lorenzo Alexander, Mark Herzlich, Matt Hasselbeck, Richard Sherman, Ryan Wendell, Sam Acho, Shaun Suisham, Thomas Davis and Zak DeOssie.[75] Each NFL team also has a player representative, along with two to three alternate representatives.[76]

Leader Year(s)
Executive Directors
John Gordy January 16, 1969 – November 1, 1969[10]
Malcolm Kennedy Jr. 1969 – 1971
Ed Garvey 1971 – June 1983[77][78]
Gene Upshaw June 13, 1983 – August 21, 2008[41]
Richard Berthelsen August 21, 2008 – March 16, 2009 as Interim Executive Director[48]
DeMaurice Smith March 16, 2009 – present[49]
NFLPA (pre-merger)
Bill Howton January 26, 1958 – January 4, 1962[79]
Pete Retzlaff January 4, 1962 – January 5, 1964[80]
Ordell Braase January 5, 1964 – January 8, 1967[81]
Mike Pyle January 8, 1967 – January 11, 1968[82]
John Gordy January 11, 1968 – January 16, 1969[10]
John Mackey January 16, 1969 – 1970[17]
Tom Addison January 14, 1964 – 1965[21]
Jack Kemp 1965 – 1970[83]
NFLPA (post-merger)
John Mackey 1970 – 1973[84][85]
Bill Curry 1973 – May 31, 1975[85][86]
Kermit Alexander May 31, 1975 – March 8, 1976[86]
Dick Anderson March 8, 1976 – January 26, 1978[87]
Len Hauss January 26, 1978 – 1980[88]
Gene Upshaw 1980 – June 13, 1983[41]
Jeff Van Note June 13, 1983 – February 1984[40]
Tom Condon February 1984 – April 24, 1986[40]
Marvin Powell April 24, 1986 – March 4, 1988[89]
George Martin March 4, 1988 – June 13, 1989[90]
Mike Kenn June 13, 1989 – March 16, 1996[91]
Trace Armstrong March 16, 1996 – March 29, 2004[92]
Troy Vincent March 29, 2004 – March 19, 2008[91]
Kevin Mawae March 19, 2008 – March 25, 2012[93]
Domonique Foxworth March 25, 2012 – March 19, 2014[94]
Eric Winston March 19, 2014 – present[95]

See also



  1. ^ Mackey v. NFL, 543 F.2d 606 (8th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 801


  1. ^ a b U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards. File number 065-533. Report submitted May 29, 2014.
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  • Alego, Matthew (2007). Last Team Standing: How the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles—The "Steagles"—Saved Pro Football During World War II. Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81576-8.
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  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-571-6.
  • Ratterman, George; Robert G. Deindorfer (1962). Confessions of a Gypsy Quarterback: Inside the Wacky World of Pro Football. New York, NY: Coward-McCann.

Further reading

External links

1982 Denver Broncos season

The 1982 Denver Broncos season was the team's 23rd year in professional football and its 13th with the National Football League (NFL). The Broncos played only nine games this season, owing to the strike imposed by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). The Broncos were looking to improve on their 10-6 record from 1981. But due to many injuries plus the strike, the Broncos only won 2 games, while losing 7, their worst record since 1971 as well as their first losing season since 1975. This was also their first season with below 3 wins since 1964. The Broncos only won 1 home game the entire year, against reigning Super Bowl champion San Francisco. Their only other win was against the Los Angeles Rams. The Broncos went winless against AFC foes in 1982. All of their AFC foes were their own division rivals.

1987 NFL season

The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. This season featured games predominantly played by replacement players as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) players were on strike from weeks four to six. The season ended with Super Bowl XXII, with the Washington Redskins defeating the Denver Broncos 42–10 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Broncos suffered their second consecutive Super Bowl defeat.

Andre Collins

Andre Pierre Collins (born May 4, 1968) is a former American football outside linebacker who played ten seasons in the National Football League. He started in Super Bowl XXVI for the Washington Redskins. Collins currently serves as Director of Retired Players for the National Football League Players Association, where he works to ensure retirees make successful post-football transitions.A standout inside linebacker at Penn State, Collins was named a 1989 All-American and a Butkus Award finalist. He attended Cinnaminson High School in Cinnaminson Township, New Jersey. Collins was in the first group of inductees to the Cinnaminson High School Athletics Hall of Fame. Collins earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Policy and Administration from Penn State in 1991.

Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award

The Byron "Whizzer" White NFL Man of the Year Award has been awarded by the National Football League Players Association continuously since 1967. The most recent winner, for the 2017 season, is Chris Long of the Philadelphia Eagles. The award honors work in the community as the NFL player who best served his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron "Whizzer" White, who was a Supreme Court justice, professional American football player, naval officer, and humanitarian. Past winners have included Drew Brees, Warrick Dunn, Gale Sayers, Bart Starr, Archie Manning, Peyton Manning, Troy Vincent, and Ken Houston. Prior to his ascension to the Supreme Court, White had been All-Pro three times (1938, 1940, 1941) and the NFL rushing champion twice (1938 and 1940).

The 2001 recipient, Michael McCrary, was the child in the Supreme Court case Runyon v. McCrary (1976) in which Justice White had participated nearly a quarter of a century before McCrary's award. White had dissented from the position taken by the lawyers for McCrary.

DeMaurice Smith

DeMaurice F. "De" Smith (born February 3, 1964) is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), and he was elected unanimously on March 15, 2009. As Executive Director of the NFLPA during the 2011 NFL lockout, Smith played a major role in helping the players and NFL owners come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.


Deflategate was a National Football League (NFL) controversy involving the allegation that Tom Brady ordered the deliberate deflating of footballs used in the New England Patriots victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference (AFC) Championship Game of the 2014–15 NFL playoffs. The controversy resulted in Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being suspended for four games and the team being fined $1 million and losing two draft picks.For his alleged part in the scandal, Tom Brady was originally suspended by the league for four games of the 2015 regular season, which was upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in an internal appeal. The matter moved to federal court, where Judge Richard M. Berman vacated Goodell's four-game suspension of Brady, allowing Brady to resume his playing duties for the entirety of the 2015 season. However, following the conclusion of the season, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Brady's four-game suspension, which became effective for the 2016 regular season. After losing a request for a rehearing, Brady announced he would accept the suspension. The controversy remained a topic of discussion during the 2016 season, which concluded with the Patriots winning Super Bowl LI and Brady being named the MVP of the game. The season also saw the NFL change the procedure for monitoring football pressure.

Dewey McClain

Dewey Loren McClain (born April 25, 1954) is an American former professional football player, labor leader, and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, McClain serves in the Georgia House of Representatives, representing the 100th district.

McClain played for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League from 1976 through 1980. He returned to football, playing in the United States Football League for the Oakland Invaders in 1983 and the Oklahoma Outlaws in 1984. After he retired from football, he became a labor leader, serving in the National Football League Players Association and as president of the Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council. He was elected to the Georgia House in a special election held on November 5, 2013.

Ed Khayat

Edward Michel Khayat (born September 14, 1935) is a thirty-five year National Football League veteran, ten years as a player (117 game total) and twenty-five as a coach. He was a starting defensive tackle for the victorious Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960 NFL Championship Game and later their head coach in 1971 and 1972. He has been inducted into six Halls of Fame. Currently he serves on the Former Players Board of Directors of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

Eleanor Montgomery

Eleanor Inez Montgomery (November 13, 1946 – December 28, 2013) was an American high jumper. She was a two-time Olympian, placing 8th in 1964 and 19th in 1968, and a Tigerbelle, the name of the Tennessee State University women's track and field program. Montgomery set her personal best in the high jump (1.80 m) on July 6, 1969 at the US National Championships in Dayton, which was an American record at that time. She also competed in the long jump and the pentathlon during her career.After retiring from competitions Montgomery worked for the Cleveland Municipal School District and participated in the Interchurch Youth Activities Program as an organizer and official at athletics competitions. Montgomery was also the Executive Director of the National Football League Players' Association Youth Camp and assisted with the Special Olympics. In 1976 she was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2013 into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Eric Winston

Eric Joseph Winston (born November 17, 1983) is an American football offensive tackle who is currently a free agent. He played in college at the University of Miami and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Winston has also played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals. He is the current president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

Gene Upshaw

Eugene Josiah Upshaw Jr. (August 15, 1945 – August 20, 2008), also known as "Uptown Gene" and “Highway 63”, was an American football player for the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League (AFL) and later the National Football League (NFL). He later served as the executive director of the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA). In 1987, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also the only player in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl in three different decades with the same team.

George Atallah

George Atallah is an American business executive and public relations professional. He is currently the assistant executive director of external affairs for the National Football League Players Association, a position he has held since 2009.

John Mackey (American football)

John Mackey (September 24, 1941 – July 6, 2011) was an American football tight end who played for the Baltimore Colts and the San Diego Chargers. He was born in Roosevelt, New York and attended Syracuse University. He was the first president of the National Football League Players Association following the AFL-NFL merger, serving from 1970 to 1973. Mackey was also a big reason for the NFLPA to create the "88 Plan" which would financially support ex-players who required living assistance in later years.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, the second pure tight end elected.

Markus Koch

Markus Koch (born February 13, 1963) is a German-born former American football defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins team which won a Super Bowl (1988). He played high school football at the Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener, Ontario and played college football at Boise State University.

Koch served as Vice President of the Seattle chapter of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).Having finished his career before the internet age, Koch is overlooked by the media, which call Sebastian Vollmer of the Patriots the first German to be drafted (2nd, 2009) by the NFL and to win a Super Bowl.

NFLPA Collegiate Bowl

The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is a post-season college football all-star game for NFL draft-eligible college players, held annually in January. The event was founded in 2012 by the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA). Players predominantly, but not exclusively, are from teams within the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).

The first six editions of the game were played in Carson, California, at the venue then known as Home Depot Center and StubHub Center. Starting with the 2018 edition, the game is held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement

The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a labor agreement which reflects the results of collective bargaining negotiations between the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and National Football League (NFL) team owners. The labor agreement classifies distribution of league revenues, sets health and safety standards and establishes benefits, including pensions and medical benefits, for all players in the NFL. The first collective bargaining agreement was reached in 1968 after player members of the NFLPA voted to go on strike to increase salaries, pensions and benefits for all players in the league. Later negotiations of the collective bargaining agreement called for injury grievances, a guaranteed percentage of revenues for players, an expansion of free agency and other issues impacting the business of the NFL. The NFLPA and team owners have negotiated seven different agreements since 1968.

Most recently, in 2011, players and team owners reached a collective bargaining agreement after a player lockout and court-ordered mediation. The currently active agreement was ratified in 2011 and extends through the 2020 season, and includes changes to league revenue distribution, increases in player benefits and health and safety improvements including major limits on offseason, preseason and regular season practice activities.

Texas vs The Nation

Texas vs The Nation was an American college football all-star bowl game played from 2007 to 2013. Originally played at the Sun Bowl Stadium, the format of the game pitted 50 top-rated college seniors who played college or high school football in Texas against a squad of 50 top-rated seniors from the other 49 states. In its first year, 73% of players who participated in the game were signed by National Football League (NFL) teams. In 2011, the game moved from El Paso to San Antonio, and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) became the named sponsor of the game. In 2012, the NFLPA began its own all-star game, the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, and the Texas vs The Nation game was not held. The game was revived in 2013 at Eagle Stadium in Allen, but did not return in 2014.

Tom Condon

Thomas Joseph Condon (born October 26, 1952) is an American football agent. He was named the most powerful agent in American football by Sporting News in 2006 and heads the Football Division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) with fellow agent Ben Dogra. His clients include quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Alex Smith and brothers Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.Condon went to Boston College in 1974 and was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984. He was an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs between 1974 and 1984 and for the New England Patriots in 1985. After earning his Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore during off-seasons and representing teammates while still playing in the NFL, he went on to become president of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) from 1984 to 1986. He joined IMG in 1991.

USA Football

USA Football is the national governing body for amateur American football in the United States. It is an independent non-profit based in Indianapolis, Indiana. USA Football hosts more than 100 training events annually and offers education programs for coaches and game officials, as well as skill development for young players and resources for youth league administrators. The organization awards more than $1,000,000 in equipment grants to youth leagues and high schools each year based on merit and need along with additional resources. USA Football also offers up to $500,000 in subsidies for volunteer youth coach background checks.

USA Football was endowed by the National Football League and the National Football League Players Association in 2002.

In May 2017, the International Federation of American Football stripped its recognition of USA Football, citing disputes over anti-doping enforcement. The IFAF instead recognized the United States Federation of American Football as the USA's governing body, and the USFAF organized a team to participate in the 2017 World Games, in which it won a bronze medal.

A rival body also calling itself the International Federation of American Football continued to recognize USA Football and organized the 2017 Women's World Championships, which the USA won.In March 2018, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) determined that the rival IFAF organization was the proper governing entity and voided all decisions of the other IFAF entity, including their decision to strip USA Football of its recognition. USA Football is currently the internationally recognized governing body for American football in the United States.

Affiliated unions
State federations
See also
North American major league sports player associations

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