NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith confident CBA will be approved by players, doesn't mind stars' criticism

On Wednesday, some NFL stars expressed displeasure or downright outrage over the NFL’s proposed collective bargaining agreement.

On Thursday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said he didn’t mind those stars speaking out.

Smith, in Indianapolis during the NFL scouting combine, spoke with reporters about the controversial CBA proposal, which is being voted on by players. Smith said he was confident the players would vote to approve the deal, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer, but didn’t have a timetable on the vote.

While the opposition from star players like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Maurkice Pouncey, Richard Sherman and J.J. Watt makes things tricky for the union leader, he was in favor of them speaking out.

DeMaurice Smith: ‘Democracy is messy’

The headlines Wednesday surrounded some big-name players with strong opposition to the deal. That didn’t bother Smith.

“Man, democracy is messy,” Smith said to reporters, tweeted by Matt Verderame of Fansided. “When you urge your players to become part of a union, when you decide instead of having sort of a bubble that excludes people, that you want people to not only become involved in your union but to become reps in your union, to take leadership in your union, how could you ever then take a position where you have some adverse position if they express their feelings, right?”

Rodgers was front and center in that debate, tweeting out a long opinion on why he didn’t feel the deal was good for the players.

“I understand Aaron is passionate and expressed his opinion, other players have passionately expressed their opinion, and it’s fine,” Smith said. “I would much prefer that than for anybody to think they didn’t have a voice, that they didn’t have a vote, that they were stopped from being able to express their thoughts on this deal.”

Executive director DeMaurice Smith, of the NFL Players Association, said he is confident the NFL's CBA proposal will be accepted by players. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Players are against 17th game

Even though Smith said he was confident the players would vote yes on the deal, the addition of a 17th regular-season game will be a sticking point for a long time.

Smith said the NFL required the 17th game to get a deal done now.

“I think no player would want to play an extra game, and that’s why it’s been such a long, tortured process of talking about it,” Smith said (h/t to Verderame). “That’s a conversation I had with every team, that the league was conditioning an early deal on the 17th game. And that was a part of the package for an early deal. Remember, all of this conversation is about an early deal and a deal that gets done before expiration, and that was a critical term for the players. And for the players who don’t want to do 17 under any reason, those players will vote their conscience.”

If the deal gets accepted, it will be impossible for the union to put up a united front. Some of the most famous players in the game have spoken their opinion on it. Now we’ll see if those opinions affect the vote.

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