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September 8, 2014 at 7:27 PM

NFLPA executive director calls Ray Rice video ‘disturbing’

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith was in Seattle on Monday to meet with the Seahawks as part of his annual meetings with teams. Here’s a transcript of Smith’s comments on the Ray Rice video, the Seahawks and the nearing of an agreement for a new drug policy:

On the video of Ray Rice striking his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City hotel: “Certainly the video was disturbing when I saw it. I was probably one of the last people to see it. I was flying West here early this morning and just saw the video when I landed. As far as the Union’s next steps, I have yet to talk to Roger about the team and the league occurrences today. I did learn that the Ravens had released him and I saw a report that he had been suspended indefinitely but I have not heard that from the league itself so that will be the first step that we make.”

On the balance between his emotional reaction to the video and also acting on behalf of the NFLPA: “This is the job of the Union. I know people tend to put us in a box, that it’s just a knee-jerk reaction to defending the player and legal process and fighting suspensions and collective bargaining. Those are the things that people first think about. But we’re a Union that prides itself on addressing the needs of our members. That’s where we start. Upon seeing a video like that, as a father, as a husband, you are certainly bombarded with those initial thoughts. And rightfully so I think. But your professional thoughts turn to what are the needs here and whether it’s the needs of both individuals who are involved, those thoughts tend to be my first thoughts. Legal process and collective bargaining disciplinary proceedings tend to obviously come soon thereafter but that’s not the first thought.”

On meeting with the Seahawks: “This is a team that is blessed with a tremendous amount of senior leadership. Richard Sherman was elected rep today. Michael Bennett and Zach Miller are alternates. But you’re talking about a team that for years had Michael Robinson…This is one of the teams that you enjoy spending time with because it’s a smart, spirited group that’s blessed to have really, really good union leadership.”

On nearing an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA on a new drug-testing policy and program and the remaining holdups: “You probably know that I asked our negotiation team to go to New York today. I would have been there personally but virtually nothing gets in the way with team meetings for me. Bryan Waters, executive committee member, Eric Winston, NFLPA president, were in New York today along with the rest of our team. My hope is that the few remaining issues are resolved. But I do know that one significant issue continues to be a proposal by the NFL to suspend a player immediately in the event of an arrest for DUI. That’s something I can’t recommend to our membership to take because it avoids the very due process that the league cited when it chose not to suspend or impose punishment on one of its owners immediately after his arrest. I do believe that the decision that they made in that instance to wait for the facts to let due process play out was the right decision and we certainly believe that would be the right decision for us.”


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