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Who are the NFLPA executive director candidates?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms react to reports that Tom Brady is considering an ownership stake in the Las Vegas Raiders.

The NFL Players Association is moving closer to selecting a new executive director. It’s unclear how close anyone is to knowing who the candidates are.

The union hasn’t identified the finalists who will be considered when the board of player representatives gather next month, ostensibly to select a new executive director.

Earlier this year, Daniel Kaplan of identified several candidates: former NFL quarterback Matt Schaub, Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow Sr., NFLPA chief operating officer Teri Patterson Smith, NFLPA senior director of player affairs Don Davis, NFLPA assistant director of external affairs George Atallah, and former NFLPA president Dominique Foxworth. Some quietly disputed Kaplan’s list at the time, but no one replaced it with a different list.

Earlier this month, Jim Trotter of reported that “each of the internal candidates to be the NFLPA’s next executive director did not make the cut to finalists.” That would eliminate Smith, Davis, and Atallah.

We’ve heard a few scattered things since then, but nothing concrete. Foxworth is not believed to be a finalist. Some wonder whether former NFL receiver and former member of Congress Anthony Gonzalez is. His name first surfaced when the union decided to current executive director DeMaurice Smith for a final term.

On one hand, the NFLPA has every right to proceed with confidentiality. On the other hand, a complete lack of transparency creates suspicion as to what’s truly happening.

However it goes, it seems to be going in the direction of a new executive director, sooner than later.

It’s a thankless job. Players like Tom Brady will complain whenever they want. But stars like Brady also won’t take true and sustained leadership on union matters -- and few players are willing to give up their ability to play and to get paid for regular-season games in order to pursue the greater good.

With the nuclear option never on the table, it’s not easy to get the best possible deal when negotiating with owners who won’t hesitate to take their superyachts for extended cruises in lieu of playing a season full of football games, if that’s what it takes to shatter the union’s resolve.