One day after meeting with NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, interim executive director Richard Berthelsen said he is committed to leading or assisting the union through the duration of the pending negotiation for a collective bargaining agreement with NFL owners.
"Whether it's in a [leadership] role or in any other capacity, I have made it clear to our group that I intend to stay for the duration of the CBA talks," said Berthelsen, who was named the interim director after the sudden death of Gene Upshaw last week.
Berthelsen would not confirm that he traveled to Nashville, Tenn., on Monday along with assistant executive director Clark Gaines to confer with Mawae, but sources say the meeting occurred. Berthelsen and Gaines served key roles under Upshaw for the past 25 years.
In another NFLPA development, Troy Vincent declined to discuss whether he's interested in succeeding Upshaw because he is still mourning the union's executive director's death -- and a person Vincent referred to as "a mentor."
"I will not discuss anything outside of my mourning and sympathy for [the Upshaw] family," Vincent wrote in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press on Tuesday, in what were the former NFLPA president's first public comments since Upshaw died last week.
Vincent, a former NFL defensive back, is considered a candidate to take over as NFLPA executive director. Vincent played 15 NFL seasons and spent the past four years as the union president before he was succeeded by Mawae.
Vincent had been considered a potential successor to the job prior to Upshaw's death, but had previously sidestepped questions about his plans, saying he would only consider the post if approached by the union.
Vincent, on Tuesday, did release a statement honoring and remembering Upshaw.
"I struggled to find the words to articulate my appreciation for the experience of working intimately with one of the greatest union leaders in history," Vincent wrote. He added Upshaw will be remembered among the ranks of other influential NFLPA leaders, such as John Mackey, Ed Garvey and Bill Radovich: "All who made sacrifices to advance the cause of the players."
Upshaw will be honored at a public memorial at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. ET.
Chris Mortensen covers the NFL for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.