Enterprise Journalism Weekly Features Across ESPN Platforms
September 10, 2009
DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA’s New Signal Caller Outside the Lines (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET ESPN; noon ESPNEWS)
Until early this year, few in the football world had heard of DeMaurice Smith. In a matter of months Smith has gone from a white-collar criminal defense attorney with no professional background in sports or labor to arguably the second most powerful man in the NFL. Now the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, Smith beat out former players Troy Vincent and Trace Armstrong for the job. With the collective bargaining agreement set to expire before the 2011 season, and a potential lockout looming, Smith has looked to Washington to lobby politicians and has traveled to almost every NFL training camp to garner player support. He is also seeking assistance from retired players, a group that had strained relationships with Smith’s predecessor Gene Upshaw. Outside the Lines’ Mark Fainaru-Wada profiles Smith, the man chosen to lead the NFLPA.
“I think the most striking thing about DeMaurice’s plan is there were so many different points. He had strategies for everything, strategies on top of strategies. ‘And if this doesn’t happen, we’re going to do this.’” — Domonique Foxworth, Baltimore Ravens player representative
“They probably looked at the other side of the table, the people who have represented the NFL for the last few decades, and they probably came to the conclusion that the skill sets that they saw in me were very similar to the skill sets that those folks had.” — DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association
USC: ‘Lean on Me’
College GameDay (Saturday, 10 a.m.)
When 18-year-old linebacker Marquis Simmons stood before his team and sang a song in a freshman rite of passage, he had no idea that the lyrics of the song he chose, ‘Lean on Me’ would inspire his team to join him in a rousing chorus. Head coach Pete Carroll, sensing an opportunity to further motivate his players, invited the song’s creator, Bill Withers, to a team meeting. Shelley Smith reports on the memorable moments that followed.
New Coaches NFL Countdown (Sunday, 11 a.m.)
There are 11 first-time head coaches in the NFL this season, each intent on making his mark. For some, earning respect means asserting authority right away, by banning player perks like personal parking spots and recliners in the locker room. Ed Werder examines the different ways in which a new coach shows his team there’s a new sheriff in town.
Tom Brady was coming off 2007’s record-setting season of 50 touchdown passes, but his 2008 season lasted less than nine minutes when he suffered a torn ACL. After a long rehab, Brady is attempting to return to the form that made him a perennial Pro Bowl player and three-time Super Bowl champion. Chris Berman sits down with Brady in an exclusive interview.
The Oakland Raiders have been making headlines recently, from the alleged incident involving coach Tom Cable and assistant Randy Hanson to the no-show of DE Richard Seymour. But not everything is negative in Raiders land. For the sixth straight year, the Raiders held their weeklong International Guest Coach Program, giving coaches from countries like Mexico, Spain, Australia, Sweden and Austria the opportunity to join preseason training camp and work with the team’s coaching staff.