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Sunday, November 13, 2011
DeMaurice Smith under fire from union?

ESPN.com news services

A perception among players that there would be a grace period before drug testing began once the lockout ended could result in discipline for a number of NFL players, including Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis and offensive tackle Trent Williams, league sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

According to an NFL source, a central issue is that NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith led players to believe there would be a 30-day grace period for drug testing following the lockout, yet according to the same source the NFLPA never asked for one.

Yahoo! Sports reported that 11 players face punishment, prompting some to question how Smith handled this issue as players now fight for their rights after testing positive for recreational drug use just days after the lockout ended.

"I told De that this was a concern of a number of players after the lockout ended and he said, 'I got you covered,' " an unnamed player representative told Yahoo! Sports. "I went back and told the players, 'Look, whatever it is you've been doing, you need to stop and be ready, but that we would probably have a 30-day grace period before the league started testing.

"Then we get to camp and (the league is) testing us on Day 2. Guys are looking at me like I don't know what I'm talking about. It was embarrassing. I called the union and I was told there were a lot of things that fell through the cracks at the last minute."

Union leadership earlier drew the ire of some of its members when it was revealed that it agreed to a list of eight players that could be disciplined under the personal conduct policy for actions that occurred during the lockout. Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson, one of those players, received a three-game suspension that was ultimately reduced to one game after an appeal. He also has filed a charge against the NFLPA with the National Labor Relations Board.