Chief executive of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, resigned on Friday after a decade on the job, the league announced.
Smith’s departure comes amid growing tensions between the league and owners over player safety policies.
Smith has been critical of league players’ efforts to secure concessions from the NFL and said the league should have been more proactive in securing more protections for players.
Smith, who had served on the league’s executive committee, made the announcement after an NFL meeting with owners.
The NFLPA has sought more protections from the league.
It has argued that the league needs more rules and regulations, including more restrictions on player contact.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has called for a return to a more traditional approach to player safety.
In a statement, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Smith’s resignation “has been accepted and approved.”
Aiello added that the union was not surprised by Smith’s decision.
“We have long supported DeManny Smith’s efforts to improve the NFLPA and our players.
We wish him every success as he moves forward,” Aiellos statement said.
A league source said Smith was fired after the union reached an agreement with the league to address player safety concerns.
We have seen that the player safety issues that the players have raised are not new.
We know what they are asking for.
They have always been looking for more than what the league has provided.
The players have been working on this for years and we expect the league will respond to their needs.
We look forward to working with DeMannie Smith to improve player safety and continue to advocate for players and their families.
While Smith has often been critical, his relationship with Goodell is one that dates back to the days of the Super Bowl, when Smith worked for the league in the early 2000s.
Goodell became the commissioner in 2010.
Goodell was hired by the owners and the NFL had its first union negotiations in 2011.
The union has been involved in a number of labor issues, including a lawsuit challenging a lockout in 2016, the implementation of a $15 minimum wage, and the release of video evidence in the Ray Rice domestic violence case.
Goodell has also been the subject of several high-profile controversies, including an investigation into the NFL’s handling of a child abuse scandal.
The NFL has made a number changes in recent years to its league rules and procedures, including the new use of cameras in games, which has made the league more difficult for players to access and complain about.
The league has also faced increasing scrutiny over its concussion policies, which have come under scrutiny in recent months after several high school players were arrested for allegedly participating in an illegal substance abuse program.