Are Gene Upshaw’s Days Numbered
The soon-to-be 63 year-old Executive Director of the NFLPA is taking sniper fire like Hillary Clinton in Bosnia. He has taken on battles on multiple fronts from retired and active players. Last week, Upshaw probably faced his greatest public opposition when an email from Baltimore Ravens Kicker Matt Stover was made public.
Stover, the Ravens Player rep, sent out an email to all the other Player Reps urging for a change in the leadership of the union. Many active and retired players resent Upshaw’s tenure, style and salary (4 million dollars).
Here’s what some are saying about Upshaw.
Ted Johnson, retired New England Patriots
“The reason I think the union has issues is the average career length is 3.2 years,” Johnson said. “The average term for each player rep is two years. Gene Upshaw every year has to educate new union reps on the same (expletive) year after year. There’s no momentum. He basically talks down to us. It’s not like he’s talking to (baseball’s Tom) Glavine, guys who have been player reps forever. Half the union reps every time they go to (the annual meeting in) Hawaii are new every two years.”
“I repped for six out of 10 years,” Johnson said. “I was always asking Gene Upshaw at our union meetings in Hawaii how we could improve benefits. You know what he said to me? ‘Ted, they don’t give a (expletive) about you when you’re done.’ It struck me in a way that I didn’t think he did either. It just hit me like that. They don’t give a (expletive) about you when you’re done. I’ll never forget that.”
Domonique Foxworth, active Denver Broncos
“I’m not necessarily saying Gene will be out of office or that he should be out of office, but the key here is that the players stay unified and the best way of doing that is giving them all a chance to have a say in who our executive director is.”
“It’s sad, because Gene has done a great job over the years,” Foxworth said. “But sometimes, things come to an end, and this move may be the beginning of that.”