When Gene Upshaw died last August of pancreatic cancer, the NFL community mourned the loss. His absence also meant a replacement was needed for the executive director of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) a position Upshaw held until his death. The search has gone one since then, but now the candidates are beginning to be thinned. The position is now between three candidates: Troy Vincent, Trace Armstrong and DeMaurice Smith.
Vincent and Armstrong are former union presidents and Smith is a lawyer. The final decision will be made during the annual NFLPA meeting in Hawaii on March 13-15. Each candidate will attend the meeting and give a statement. It will all be long over by the time the season starts, and fans can get their NFL tickets.
Troy Vincent first started gaining national attention as a standout defensive back at the University of Wisconsin during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He has recently been inducted into the school’s hall of fame because of his contributions, which included being team captain, leading the Big Ten in punt returns in 1989 and tying for second in school history with 18 career passes defended. He entered the 1992 NFL Draft and was picked in the first round and the seventh pick overall by the Miami Dolphins. He was with Miami from 1992 to 1995. He also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1996 to 2003, the Buffalo Bills from 2004 to 2006 and the Washington Redskins in 2006.
In his NFL career, he tallied 794 tackles, 199 passes defended, 5.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 47 interceptions. He was named the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2002 and founded a community development corporation called Love Thy Neighbor. He was the president of the NFL Players Association from 2004 to 2008.
Armstrong, a former defensive end, has also been involved in NFLPA politics and workings for awhile, being a close associate of Upshaw. He played for the Chicago Bears from 1989 to 1994. He also spent time on the roster of the Miami Dolphins, from 1995 to 2000. He finished his career with the Oakland Raiders from 2001 to 2003. During his NFL career, he totaled 302 tackles, eight passes defended 106 sacks, 20 forced fumbles and one interception. Armstrong was the NFLPA president before Vincent from 1996 to 2004.
Smith doesn’t have any ties to the NFL, but some players like someone neutral from outside the league. Smith is from Washington, D.C. and attended the University of Virginia for his law degree. He was the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia from 1991 to 2000. He has become a famous face for his law opinions because of appearances on shows like The Abrams Report and Hardball on MSNBS as well as on other channels like CNN, Court-TV, Fox and NBC. He has been the recipient of many accolades during his career, and even teaches at his alma mater, George Washington University and American University. Litigation and dispute resolution are two of his specialties.