NFL union boss paid $4 million/yr

Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA executive director, issued a strong challenge amid reports that Ravens player rep Matt Stover is leading a movement to overthrow him. He insisted repeatedly that he is not going anywhere.

"All I can tell you is I'm here and I will be here," Upshaw told the Daily News Tuesday night. "I've already told the player reps that I will not leave until this (collective bargaining) deal is done, whether it is 2010, 2011 or 2012."

Stover, the 40-year-old kicker, sent an e-mail to player reps on Monday outlining a six-step plan to have a new head of the union selected by the executive committee and elected by the player reps at the NFLPA annual meeting in March of 2009, according to the document obtained by ESPN. Upshaw's contract, reportedly for $4 million per year, does not expire until Dec. 31, 2010.

Upshaw claims his job status never came up at the recent union meeting in Hawaii. He believes it is only an issue because he will be 65 on Aug. 15, 2010, which he set as the mandatory retirement age for NFLPA employees but which he said could easily be rescinded for himself and others.

NFL owners, upset that the 2006 collective bargaining agreement is costing them too much, plan to exercise an opt-out clause in November and reopen negotiations. If a deal is not reached, 2009 would be the final year of the salary cap, and 2010, as an uncapped year, would be the final year of the CBA. That could lead to a management lockout or a union decertification - the tactic Upshaw used after the 1987 strike that led to free agency through the courts in 1993. Meanwhile, the potential of a 2011 work stoppage hangs over the league.

Asked about a player uprising, Upshaw told The News, "The only uprising I am concerned about is the owners. You would have to be in a hole somewhere not to realize what we are facing over the next several years. I will not leave my position until we have a deal and I am satisfied we have done the right thing."

Upshaw revealed he met with some owners on Monday but would not give any specifics.

In his e-mail, Stover referred to a conference call of player reps on April 4 and wrote, "I believe that the NFLPA is ready to begin a national search process to find a new Executive Director. As you are completely aware of our election process, Gene's contractual situation, and our looming battles against the owners in the coming years, I feel that the Board must begin to prepare for a change in leadership immediately. I was on that conference call and I am not the only rep who listened and felt that it is time for a change."


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