The NFL has a big problem with racism, a new lawsuit alleges. And the issue starts at the very top of the football food chain. Here is what’s happening.
Back in 2020, reporter Jim Trotter sat down with a colleague from NFL Media, a league-owned entity which also manages the NFL Network.
He Named Names
In that discussion, the fellow journalist told Trotter and several other co-workers about a discussion he’d had with Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula.
They Touched on Serious Matters
The reporter and team owner were chatting about league initiatives to address social injustice and the broader Black Lives Matter movement.
He Said WHAT?
At one point, the reporter alleges that Pegula told him, “If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.”
He Brought in the Bosses
Trotter was shocked to hear his colleague’s account of Pegula’s comments.
He went to his bosses at NFL Media and asked them to look into the situation.
They Brushed Him Off
But, according to a lawsuit Trotter recently filed against the NFL, his superiors brushed him off time and time again.
Nothing Happened at All
Those bosses told Trotter time and time again that the league office was investigating the issue.
He never saw any movement or heard any updates on that front, though.
Pegula Flat Denies It
For his part, Pegula says he never made any racist comments. “I am horrified that anyone would connect me to an allegation of this kind,” he said.
Not the Only One
Pegula isn’t alone in being fingered by Trotter’s lawsuit, though.
Cowboys Boss on the Hot Seat
The journalist also points to a conversation he personally had with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, also in 2020.
Addressing Inequity in the League
In that sit-down, Trotter was meeting with Jones and Cowboys executive Will McClay about the lack of high-level roles occupied by Black employees in the NFL.
He Lost His Cool
According to Trotter, that meeting was not very friendly, and Jones eventually got fed up with the conversation.
Buy Their Own Team
At that point, Trotter says Jones left him with a parting thought: “If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire.”
He Was Misrepresented
Like Pegula, though, Jones denies ever uttering those words.
He says diversity and inclusion are very important issues to him and that Trotter misrepresented their conversation.
Goodell Waved His Hands
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, says he’s known about the allegations against Pegula and Jones for a while.
The league has investigated, he says, though he didn’t specifically say what the NFL’s findings were.
The NFL Speaks
The league as an entity did take a stand in a statement addressing the lawsuit, though.
They Say It Never Happened
“We take his concerns seriously, but strongly dispute his specific allegations, particularly those made against his dedicated colleagues at NFL Media,” the NFL said in their statement.
A Widespread Issue
Trotter’s suit asks for unspecified monetary damages. But the overarching concern is a full-scale investigation into what Trotter calls discriminatory and retaliatory behavior that’s widespread in the NFL.
Not Fast Enough
Goodell admits there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of improving the league’s diversity. But he thinks they’re making progress, even if it’s not fast enough to suit everyone.
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