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Gunning for the Top: How Sean Gilbert Has Positioned Himself to Take Over NFLPA

by Chris Lingebach
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NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith arrives for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 14, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners when labor talks between the two broke down last month. (Credit: Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith arrives for court ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on April 14, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners when labor talks between the two broke down last month. (Credit: Hannah Foslien /Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Former Redskins lineman Sean Gilbert has been busy positioning himself to be the NFLPA’s next Executive Director, but there’s one man standing in his way: DeMaurice Smith, the current Players Association head.

Gilbert, as Jarrett Bell noted in USA Today back in September, has silently been crafting a resume fit for the NFLPA’s top job since retiring from an 11-year playing career after the 2003 NFL season.

Part of that his experience includes publishing an e-book – entitled The $29 Million “Tip”: How Roger Goodell Earned His Big Paydayexplaining how, under Smith’s watch, the players relinquished roughly $4.5 billion over a 10-year period in negotiations of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011 – a deal viewed as a landslide victory for league owners.

Gilbert began building that body of work as a player — as he explained to Lavar and Dukes on 106.7 The Fan on Wednesday — and has continued shrewdly fighting for better deals for current players.

His most recent negotiating romp came in the form of a landmark deal for his nephew, All-Pro defensive back Darrelle Revis, who signed a 6-year, $96 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013.

“Working on my nephew’s last negotiation, it prompted me to get more involved in both sides of the business,” Gilbert said on 106.7 The Fan. “And that’s what led to putting together a team of guys that helped me get all the information and write the book.”

“I think you take all the years of playing – you know how it is in the locker room, the conversations that we have, whether the players are satisfied or displeased with what’s going on – and I think you take all of that information and you build from it,” Gilbert said.

“I’m passionate about the game, I played with passion, I was passionate about making sure deals were right,” he said. “But at the same time, I think there’s a balance. So I think that with the years I’ve played, the expertise I’ve learned and gained – even in negotiations – I think it qualifies me to go in and fight for the players.”

An earlier feather in Gilbert’s cap came on his own behalf in 1998, when he negotiated a 7-year, $46.5 million deal – then a record for defensive players – this, after rejecting an offer from the Washington Redskins, and skipping his entire second season with the team in 1997.

Although Gilbert may not spark the fondest memories in the minds of the Burgundy and Gold faithful, he may very well be charged with protecting all their favorite players, and in just a matter of months.

Smith’s term as executive director of the NFLPA expires in 2015, according to USA Today.

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