ORLANDO Veteran tackle Eric Winston became the NFL Players Association s newest president Wednesday, elected by the board of representatives over New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson and free-agent safety Ryan Clark.
Things are going to come up. We re going to have fights, Winston, who is a free agent, told USA TODAY Sports. And (the job is) to continue to carry that torch to the next person, whoever that may be. I ve got to leave this union better than I found it.
Winston, 30, has played in 124 games (119 starts) over eight NFL seasons with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. He has been active with the union since 2010 and most recently served on the committee that regulates and disciplines agents.
He succeeds former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who wasn t eligible to run for a second two-year term because he wasn t on an NFL roster last season.
The board also elected seven new vice presidents to fill out the executive committee the largest player leadership turnover the union has had. Joining holdovers Watson, Matt Hasselbeck and Brian Waters are Clark, Jay Feely, Scott Wells, Adam Vinatieri, Zak DeOssie, Lorenzo Alexander and Mark Herzlich.
We re coming from a time of great leadership, taking us through such tumultuous time with the lockout, the new CBA, Watson said. The guys that have been elected now: they come right behind some of these great leaders that we ve had, but they re definitely ready for the challenge.
The executive committee, led by the president, have a variety of duties that include enforcing the selection bylaws in the event of a challenge to the executive director job. DeMaurice Smith is expected to have at least one challenger when he s up for re-election in March 2015.
Executive officers are elected to two-year terms in even-numbered years by the board of player representatives. Any player who has been a member in good standing for one year is eligible.