Alumni leader feels NFLPA's Smith hasn't communicated well

George Martin was in a celebratory mood this weekend as he attended a 25th anniversary celebration of the New York Giants' 1986 Super Bowl championship team. But the former standout defensive end and current director of the NFL Alumni Association had tough words for NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.

Martin has been vocal in his displeasure with the lack of communication between the players' decertified union and the former players that Martin represents.

"When you don't have a conversation with the recognized leader of the NFL alumni, how can you say you have the best interests of retired players at heart when you won't even sit down and talk to their leadership," Martin told *The Star-Ledger* (Newark, N.J.) in Sunday's edition. "That to me flies in the face of that rationale."

Martin's frustrations stem from a now more than one-and-a-half-year fruitless effort to schedule a one-on-one meeting with Smith. Earlier this year, Martin resorted to outside help to facilitate a sitdown, getting three congressmen -- including former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler -- to send a letter to Smith calling for a meeting with the alumni association.

Martin speculated in March that the NFLPA viewed the alumni association as "a pawn of the league," according to the New York Daily News.

"I've never been given the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about some of the similarities or some of our objectives," Martin said. "I really resent the fact that that opportunity hasn't been presented to me despite his pledge to do so. You have to be a man of your word. You have to have the integrity. I think that calls into question where Mr. DeMaurice Smith resides."

The NFLAA continues to have a strong relationship with the league, something Martin isn't afraid to admit. Martin told The Star-Ledger the NFLAA has met with Commissioner Roger Goodell at least 20 times.

"When that's the only open door to you, when that's the only receptive door to you, you have a tendency to take full advantage of it," Martin said. "We've done that and we are doing that. It seems instead of DeMaurice Smith following suit and saying let's do likewise, he has criticized those meetings -- which I think is deplorable."

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