David Cornwell’s Letter to Agents about DeMaurice Smith

Jan 31, 2012

Yesterday, a story made its way across the sports networks about an 11-page letter from attorney and player/agent advisor David Cornwell criticizing NFLPA Executive Director’s performance in general and his handling of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in particular. Interestingly, one of the first posts about this memo actually came from the NFL.
Some of you may recall that when Gene Upshaw passed away suddenly just before the beginning of the Players Inc. trial and the NFLPA subsequently went through a long search process for a new Executive Director. Among some of the leading candidates were retired player Troy Vincent and attorney David Cornwell. DeMaurice Smith emerged as the winner much to the surprise of many people. Cornwell takes issue with Smith’s version of his successes in running the PA and the CBA negotiations, as well as how he’s kow-towed to the League on player discipline issues. Most retired players could add at least another 11 pages to your letter, Mr. Cornwell!

Cornwell takes issue with NFLPA leader Smith in 11-page letter

  • By Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • NFL Network Insider

Published: Jan. 30, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS — David Cornwell has sent an 11-page letter to all fellow agents, detailing flaws in DeMaurice Smith’s candidacy for NFL Players Association executive leadership.
Smith’s contract is up in March, and Cornwell, a longtime attorney and agent who opposed Smith for the NFLPA executive director job after Gene Upshaw’s 2008 death, has sent a memo around the league making a case against renewing Smith’s contract.
“Despite my greatest hopes, my personal experience reveals that (Smith’s) vision in 2008 was little more than an inside Washington political campaign — high on style, low on substance,” Cornwell wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained. “(His) grandiose pronouncements did not translate into meaningful progress in the business of playing football. Rather than advancing the partnership between players and team owners, the new 10 year CBA relegated NFL players’ status to mere employees.”
The memo criticizes economic issues within the new collective bargaining agreement and takes issue with Smith and the NFLPA for how they handled Terrelle Pryor’s eligibility for the supplemental draft and with what Cornwell believes is lax enforcement of regulations regarding poaching clients from rival agents.
Read the rest of the article by clicking HERE.
EDITOR’S NOTE (Feb. 1, 2012) : Sports Agent Blog has an even better summary of Cornwell’s points – click HERE to read..
We uploaded a copy of the Memo to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it downloadable for printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the center of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close) :
Cornwell Memo to Agents — NFLPA

8 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Gordon Wright
    February 1st, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    The way I see it is when Wall Street collapsed in 2008, the United States Government loaned the National Football League money from the Public Taxpayers and that included pre-93ers who have income and pay taxes. But the pre-93ers with three credited years are refused a pension in spite of the NFL borrowing billions from the United States Government during
    the downturn in the economy. On the front side, no one talks about this form of conservative distribution that filters back to weakening the neighborhoods where the abused-and-refused-three-credit-years-pre-93ers live.

    Unfortunately, the 2011 CBA never addressed the issue of the number of aggrieved Pre-93ers with three credited years. These individuals were then and are now not important to the neighborhoods they live in and are known as an NFL Alumnus to the 2011 CBA. No paperwork was ever sent out to dues-paying NFLPA Pre-93ers about how they were being represented. Period. That is All I have to say about the talking heads. No one should be paid to be a talking head.

    Gordon Wright
    Philadelphia Eagles & New York Jets
    1967 – 1970

  2. Walt "Flea" Roberts
    February 1st, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    Walt Roberts

    A former teammate who played prior to 1993 said he received his Legacy benefit check Saturday Jan. 28 2012! He lives in the Baton Rouge area near LSU.

    He informed me his check was retroactive…

    Just so you know!

    Walt “Flea” Roberts
    Cleveland Browns NFL champs 1964 (’65 & ’66)
    New Orleans Saints 1967
    Washington Redskins 1969 & 1970

  3. Gordon Wright
    February 1st, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    Walt “Flea” Roberts,

    I am happy you were paid for five credited years!

    I actually have four credit years but the NFL refuse to pay me for the ’68 season because the Philadelphia Eagles filed bankruptcy under the ownership of Jerry Wolman. That was not my fault but I am being punished because I am not being paid the NFL Pension I earned with my blood, sweat and tears.

    I did take the time to read the 11-page Cromwell letter. Let’s me know one thing: All the gains of the 60’s up until now were bargained away by Demaurice Smith and the current NFL Rookies and the Hall-of-Famers. I am still intelligent enough to know that your gains will eventually be headed in the wrong direction, too. When the next CBA arrives and these gains are bargained away, the guys who have shown that they do not give a damn about the Pre-93ers who played beside you will also be back at slave labor wages.

    I ask everyone to make a copy of your check before you spend it and hope it keeps up with the rising cost of your healthcare, electric bill, transportation costs etc.

    Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

    No one speaks up for you when you need a fellow NFL Player to do so.

    Gordon Wright

  4. Joe Galat
    February 1st, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Joe Galat


    Are you aware of the NFL Youth Football Fund – $100,000,000.00+ and half-funded by the NFLPA? The Youth Football Fund was created to promote football at the grassroots level to insure a continuing fan base and talent pool for the future. The NFL dropped all the Youth Partners (AYF, Pop Warner, PAL, AAU, etc) to fund their own (in-house) USA Football Organization. Some estimate the amount funded to USA Football is four million dollars per year for the past 10 years. Virtually no funds ever reach the grassroots youth football teams now. Any supposed grants are “purchase necessary to qualify” through a third party sponsor. The USA Football expenses go to staffing, website, photo ops, etc. This a brainchild of the AYF National Office (a non profit 501 c3).

    To be fair, some local NFL Teams reach out to youth programs. The NFL Headquarters has hundreds of employees, yet all are too busy to answer emails or phone calls. After numerous calls and emails, I was actually asked by the USA Football Director to not continue copying Roger Goodell or DeMaurice Smith!

    As a former NFL Coach, I feel obligated to stand up for my member players who will someday be the NFL’s future fan base and talent pool.

    Dave – keep up the good work. Thanks for helping the sport of football.


    Joseph J. Galat
    American Youth Football
    Serving ONE MILLION Members in the USA and beyond!

  5. Gordon Wright
    February 1st, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Gordon Wright - NY Jets

    Joe –

    Guys like me who are of Full Retirement Age should get a Love offering and they shouldn’t have too ask for it. Period. The grandchildren and community children would be more inclined to play for an organization that takes care of the old men who played for the NFL when both Owners and Players were relatively poor and looking for recognition. We did not even have TV contracts back then.

    Gordon Wright

  6. Keneth Kortas
    February 1st, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Ken Kortas


    Speaking about lack of representation, I have a question regarding the Legacy Benefits and Pension Plan.

    In the fall, we all received a letter stating that all players would receive certain amounts based on our years of service and base amount increase.

    In this letter it was stated that your wife/beneficiary would receive the same amount that you will receive for the rest of their lives. When I received my letter there were formulas that called for reduced amounts to my wife. I talked to another player who was vested at a later time than I was and his wife is to receive the same amount that he is entitled to now.

    When I called the NFL, they told me that I did not have the option to have my wife/beneficiary receive any benefits at the time I retired in 1969. The only option we had was to have a $10,000 insurance policy in place until I started to collect pension benefits and then the $10,000 policy was voided. No further benefits would be available after I died.

    I understand that’s what the deal was at that time but the letter in the fall from the NFL contradicts what they told me this week.

    Are you finding that players from the 60’s are getting the same answer?

    I thought that the new agreement was equal for ALL pre-93 players?

    Thank you for your time.

    Ken Kortas
    St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears
    1964 – 1969

  7. Janet & Michael C. McCoy
    February 1st, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    Mike C. McCoy


    We were told that I could not receive any benefit from Mike because Mike signed a liftetime annunity prior to our marriage. However, I did understand that I am able to receive the Legacy Benefit.

    However, we still haven’t received the second letter asking for a beneficiary nor telling us what that amount would be. They also told us that his $10,000.00 life insurance policy was voided due to Mike taking an early pension. We received a letter from the League stating they will pay for funeral costs up to a certain amount. Check to see if you signed for a lifetime annuity; if so, we have been told that Mike is unable to make any changes. But we don’t agree since we married AFTER Mike signed the paperwork.

    Janet Brown-McCoy
    for Mike McCoy
    Green Bay Packers
    1976 – 1983

  8. DP Evans
    October 23rd, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Dave Evans

    I wonder if Cornwell’s disdain for Smith has more to with the fact that they vied for the same position at one point. Read this in another article: “First of all, Cornwell went up against DeMaurice Smith for the title of Executive Director after the late Gene Upshaw had passed away, leaving an opening at the top position in the NFLPA.”

    DP Evans