New executive director DeMaurice Smith has been working for the NFL Players Association without a contract for six weeks while a deal is being negotiated.
A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that Smith hasn't been paid anything by the union.
"He is not a holdout. He has been doing 16-hour days of work essentially for the players," said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private. "He is disappointed terms of the contract were released by someone on the executive committee but will continue to work for the players while the negotiations go on."
An ESPN report said Smith is seeking a salary of between $3.2 and $3.7 million per year and a $500,000 bonus.
Smith, 45, remains an employee of Patton Boggs, a Washington-based law firm, and "he technically can't fully detach from his other commitments" until a contract is reached with the NFLPA, the person familiar with the negotiations added.
ESPN reported that Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the union until his death last August, earned $4.3 million in salary and $2.4 million for licensing fees. Upshaw also was paid by Players Inc., the marketing arm of the union.
The contract was a main topic on a recent conference call by the 11-man NFLPA executive committee, with a suggested annual salary of $1.5 million to $2 million for Smith. The union has suggested a three-year deal, but Smith prefers a five-year contract.
Upshaw was the NFLPA's executive director for 25 years before his death from pancreatic cancer. Smith beat out three other finalists in the executive board's election in March, in great part because of his organizational acumen. Although regarded as an outsider with no ties to the union or NFL, Smith has ties to President Barack Obama and new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Smith, the fourth leader in the union's 41-year history, presented the players with a comprehensive plan, assembling roughly a dozen advisers -- Wall Street financiers, labor lawyers and sports licensing experts -- in making his presentation before the election. Smith's goals include increasing health care and opportunities for former and current players, saying "the union has both a moral and business obligation to retired players."
However, Smith's biggest challenge will come in negotiations with the league on a new collective bargaining agreement. NFL owners opted out of the current CBA last year, and it will expire after the 2010 season, which is scheduled to have no salary cap.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press