Renowned reporter and columnist Jim Trotter has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that his contract was not renewed after he pressed Roger Goodell on the league’s practices regarding the hiring of minorities.
Jim Trotter, a former reporter for NFL Network, has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, accusing the league of racial discrimination. Trotter claims that his contract was not renewed after he questioned Commissioner Roger Goodell about the lack of diversity in executive positions within the league. The lawsuit sheds light on the NFL’s alleged history of retaliation against black individuals who speak out against discriminatory practices. Trotter’s case highlights the persistent need for diversity and inclusion within the NFL and sports journalism as a whole.
Challenging the NFL’s Lack of Diversity
In his suit, Trotter claims that he was let go from the National Football League for challenging Commissioner Roger Goodell and others on the NFL’s history of racial discrimination and lack of diversity. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in New York.
As an employee of NFL Network, a subsidiary of the NFL, Trotter publicly questioned Goodell on multiple occasions about the lack of black executives in the league and teams. He even confronted Goodell during a nationally televised interview in the week leading up to the Super Bowl in February 2023.
Despite his efforts, Trotter believed that he would be offered a new contract in the spring when his agreement expired. However, his contract was not renewed, and he was left without a job by the end of March.
A History of Retaliation
“Many media outlets have already acknowledged that the NFL retaliated against and sought revenge on Mr. Trotter for his reporting on the NFL’s discriminatory practices,” wrote Trotter’s attorneys, Wigdor LLP.
“The treatment of Mr. Trotter by the NFL is consistent with a documented pattern of silencing, retaliation, and blackballing against black men who speak out against such conduct. This is the NFL’s modus operandi and is part of the league’s fabric.”
Wigdor LLP is the same law firm representing former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores in his racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and the New York Giants.
Allegations Against Jerry Jones and Terry Pegula
The lawsuit also references a conversation Trotter allegedly had with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in August 2020. Trotter asked Jones, similar to his question posed to Goodell, about the league’s hiring practices when it came to black executives.
Trotter claims that Jones responded by saying, “If black people feel that way, they should go out and buy their own team and hire whoever they want.”
Trotter also mentions Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula, who he says once commented, “If black players don’t like being here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.”
Trotter claims that he expressed his concern about the comment, but “no corrective action was taken.”
A Lack of Representation
According to Trotter’s lawsuit, there are only eight black general managers and three black head coaches in the NFL.
In addition to the 53-page lawsuit, Trotter, who now works for The Athletic, also released a statement further explaining his reasons for filing the lawsuit.
“The NFL has claimed to want accountability in diversity, equity, and inclusion. I tried to hold them accountable and lost my job in the process. I am filing this lawsuit because I can’t complain about what is wrong if I’m not willing to fight for what is right,” JT wrote on social media.
“I hope this lawsuit leads to real change across the league and newsrooms. It is on the shoulders of a predominantly black player population that owners have made billions, and those players deserve to have someone who shares their cultural and life experiences at the table when decisions are being made about how they are covered.”