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The NFLPA has countered, citing a union-commissioned study that showed the average value of the teams has grown from $288 million to $1.04 billion over 10 years, an increase of about 14 percent a year.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has already raised the possibility of a rookie salary cap, a move that would significantly pare the multi-million-dollar deals going to unproven first-round draft picks.
Another unresolved issue is the rift that's grown between the union and its retired players, some of whom feel disenfranchised. A host of former stars, including Pro Football Hall of Fame members Mike Ditka, Herb Adderley and Joe DeLamielleure, have been increasingly critical of the union over its health benefits and pension plan, which pays some retired players only hundreds of dollars a month.
NFLPA president Kevin Mawae, the center for the Tennessee Titans, called the vote a "legacy decision for the organization to move forward."
Smith's election concludes a long, divisive and unpredictable seven-month search process in which Vincent was the target of numerous attacks -- many of them anonymous -- questioning his character and business background. Vincent was also briefly removed from contention in December, but was placed back on the list at the prompting of executive committee member Mike Vrabel, a linebacker for Kansas City.
Cornwell was also eliminated from contention in January, then re-emerged. But the choice was Smith.
The vote was tabulated and verified by accounting firm KMH LLP of Honolulu.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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