CANTON, OH - AUGUST 05: Commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell and Director of the National Football League Players' Association, DeMaurice Smith pose with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2011 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Bud Lite)
SB Nation's Amy K. Nelson sat down with DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director, to discuss player discipline, replacement referees and more.
The NFL collective bargaining agreement is now over a year old, but tensions between the league and the NFLPA have continued to flare in spite of the new deal. Issues ranging from commissioner Roger Goodell's power over player discipline to the franchise tag have all surfaced during the 2012 offseason.
In an interview with SB Nation's Amy K. Nelson NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith for a wide ranging interview to discuss the the sometimes contentious relationship between the league and the union over those issues and others.
Nelson asked Smith whether or not he regretted negotiations that left the commissioner as sole arbitrator under the new agreement.
"There's two factors that influence whether you have a regret over something," Smith explained. "One is if you engaged in the wrong process, and one is if you achieved the wrong result or didn't achieve the result you wanted. On either of those two, there's nothing to regret."
Goodell's role in the player discipline process has been in the spotlight this year in the wake of the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal and a rash of offseason player arrests. Smith refused to speculate on what kind of disciplinary actions the league might take on these matter. Instead, he was focused on the union's responsibility in helping to educate players and help prevent off-field issues.
"The real issue for us is the health and safety of our players on and off the field," Smith said. "What I do know is that when our players drink and drive they put themselves and they put the public at risk. So instead of spending a millisecond thinking about discipline, our staff actually spends a lot of time thinking about what we can do to make sure those don't occur. We are always looking for better ways to make sure that our guys understand the consequences of their choices and don't put themselves at risk."