NFL, Sports

Cyrus Mehri says he can leverage ‘good will’ to players’ benefit as NFLPA executive director

Cyrus Mehri thinks he’s in a great position to repair a “dysfunctional” relationship between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The attorney, who has squared off for workers’ rights against major corporations and worked with the league to help put the Rooney Rule in place, sees himself as a strong candidate to unseat DeMaurice Smith next year as executive director of the NFLPA.

‘(The CBA) has been horrible for players’

“As soon as I get elected, in March of 2018, I’m going to start renegotiating the CBA, because it’s been horrible for the players,” Mehri told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin’ The Chains. “And I’m going to start focusing on things that we can do even before the 2018 season starts, such as reforming the player-discipline system that gives one-thousand-percent power to the Commissioner without any checks and balances. And we’ll do that because that’s best for the game, not just best for the players.”

Mehri said he has a “professional relationship” with Commissioner Roger Goodell, just as he did with Goodell’s predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, and also with “the top brass” in the NFL.

‘I’ve earned the respect’

“I challenged the NFL on a series of what I’ll call social-justice issues, most famous being for the Rooney Rule, which has been a spectacular success,” he said. “Certainly far from perfect, but we have leveled the playing field and got a record number of minority coaches and GMs into position and they have done wonders in terms of seizing those opportunities. I’ve earned the respect. Now, I can leverage that good will to the benefit of the players. Right now, you have a relationship where the union and management do not talk constructively together.

“I’m talking about lifting up the league, not tearing down the league. I’m talking about giving the players a fair share of the pie when the prior CBA gave the players 52 percent and the current CBA, by my opponent, knocked it down to 47. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars per year that the players forfeited, let alone the fact that the player tenure has dropped from about five years to about three-and-a-quarter years. That means the benefits of vesting, when it comes to safety benefits, health benefits and pensions and all that, is out of reach for most players.”

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