DeMaurice F. Smith is the Executive Director of the National Football League Players’ Association (NFLPA) and the longest-serving director in major league sports. This exceptional leader has proven to be a master negotiator in his role as the Chief Executive Officer of the labor union. During his initial election, Smith assumed the helm during the most contentious and public labor union/management battles in history. Smith, a former litigator, has been able to artfully craft two comprehensive collective bargaining agreements, one of which provides players with the highest guaranteed share of NFL revenue in history. Arguably one of the most influential executives in major league sports, Smith has shifted the league’s position to be more whole-player-focused with improvements in healthcare, pensions, and benefits for current and retired players. As Executive Director, Smith has put emphasis on more player lead involvement around discussions of their careers, improvements of player safety, and long-term healthcare. During his tenure, Smith employed a multi-faceted legal strategy that has forced the NFL to implement a significant amount of health and safety protocols that will hold the league accountable to the players’ long term. Though Smith does not have personal football experience, his unique perspective of ethical discourse on the morality of sports positions him to apply his experience as a litigator, understanding that, “football does not exist in and of itself; it is inextricably tied to those who want to play it, those who want to watch it, and those who want to be a part of it.” — Smith (Ted Talk 2013)
Prior to his role with NFLPA, Smith was the Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and counsel to the then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. He has received distinguished honors and was awarded from the US Attorney’s Office highest honors for his work in courtroom advocacy and the Department of Justice’s highest honor by US Attorney General Janet Reno. Smith was inducted into the prestigious American Trial Lawyers Association and awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, where he would serve two terms on the Board of Governors. A native Ohioan, for his tireless advocacy for Human Rights he was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award and the Keeper of the Dream Award by the Action Network Alliance. He was given the City of Justice Award by the Los Angeles Alliance for New Economy and was inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges’ Hall of Excellence. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and Cedarville University, Smith is a champion for education. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a former executive resident at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia, a guest lecturer at Georgetown University, and currently lectures for the University of Miami School of Law.