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Robinson: Ex-Aliquippa, Pitt star looking to unseat NFLPA chief

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Former Pitt defensive lineman and NFL star Sean Gilbert is attempting to unseat NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith.

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By Alan Robinson
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 10:12 p.m.

Sean Gilbert, the former Aliquippa High and Pitt star, tore through opposing offensive linemen for 42 12 sacks during his NFL career.

At age 43, he'd like one more: A sacking of NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith, who was reappointed to a second three-year term in 2012. Smith's reappointment came months after he negotiated a labor deal that is widely seen today as overwhelmingly favoring the owners.

“(The labor deal) was a home run, and (the NFL owners) all view it as a home run,” Pittsburgh-based sports agent Ralph Cindrich said.

Gilbert certainly believes so. He is the first candidate to actively campaign for the NFLPA job, which can't be filled again until 2015 — five years before the current labor deal ends. As part of his push, Gilbert wrote a 23,000-word e-book “The $29 Million ‘Tip': How Roger Goodell Earned His Big Payday” that can be purchased on Amazon as a download for $7.19.

Based on that price, Gilbert must sell 403,380 copies to match Goodell's salary during that labor deal year of 2011.

Gilbert was known as a tough negotiator during a career that lasted from 1992-2003, even sitting out the 1997 season during a contract dispute with the Redskins. The Carolina Panthers later gave up two first-round draft picks and a $46.5 million contract to get Gilbert; at the time, it was the largest deal given to a defensive lineman.

Gilbert is taking his candidacy seriously. He told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to give a copy of his book to every current NFL player and write an individual note to each player.

Smith wasn't challenged upon reelection in 2012, although sports lawyer David Cornwell urged players to take a close look at Smith's work. Cornwell later became the executive director of the NFL Coaches Association.

In his e-book, Gilbert contends:

• The Players Association gave up $4.5 billion in its latest labor deal, which has served to cut significantly the salaries of rookies, trim the value of many experienced players and stabilize the owners-friendly salary cap.

• Goodell owns too much power over player discipline. The Steelers were the only team to vote against ratifying the labor deal, mostly because of the player-discipline issue.

• Smith agreed with salary cap penalties for the Redskins and Cowboys, who spent considerably during the one season there was no salary cap.

Gilbert also wants the union to agree to a 18-game regular season in exchange for owners lowering the waiting period for free agency from four seasons to three.

Gilbert, a coaching intern with the Jets two years ago, serves as an adviser to his nephew, cornerback Darrelle Revis, another former Aliquippa and Pitt star who signed with Tampa Bay this year for $96 million. Gilbert apparently first became interested in the NFLPA job while helping negotiate Revis' contract.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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