During the week of Super Bowl LVI, NFL reporter Jim Trotter confronted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over concerns about a lack of diversity in NFL Media leadership for the second consecutive year.
A month later, Trotter’s contract was not renewed and his employment with NFL Media ended.
He’s pretty sure that the former played a role in the latter.
Trotter announced on Monday that his time with NFL Media was coming to an end. Tuesday, he appeared on Peacock’s Brother From Another and talked about his employment at NFL Media and why he thinks that his public questioning of NFL Media’s diversity issues played a role in that decision.
This is what Roger Goodell came up with after having 80 seconds to think through his response to @JimTrotter_NFL's question about diversity issues at NFL Media (which Trotter also asked him about last year) pic.twitter.com/EQlbrsI0hg
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 8, 2023
“I will have a lot to say about it at the appropriate time, which is not now,” Trotter told host Michael Holley. “The thing that I will say now is that journalism matters, and holding people who are in power accountable matters. And that’s part of our job, regardless of if it’s our own employer or someone else, which is all I really tried to do here, Michael.
“One of the things the NFL always said internally is, ‘Hold us accountable. Hold us accountable as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion.’ And so for the last couple of years, that’s what I’ve been trying to do, pointing out that in our newsroom, where we cover a player population that is roughly sixty to seventy percent Black according to league data, there is no Black person in senior management in our newsroom who has a seat at the table when we are deciding how we are going to cover these players and who is going to cover them.
“Secondarily, we do not have a full-time Black person on the news desk at NFL Media. And I keep saying ‘we’ because officially I’m not terminated until Friday. To me, those are issues. Because, one, I think it’s unfair to the players. They should have someone who shares either the same or similar life experiences and cultural experiences at the table when we talk about how we are going to cover them. And the fact that we don’t, to me, is an issue.
“So I have raised that repeatedly over the last two years, including at the last two Super Bowls with the Commissioner. And there are some who didn’t like it. And I do believe it played a role in my contract not being renewed, and I will talk about that more later. But so be it, you know? I’m not going to change. And I’m always going to fight for representation, and I’m always going to fight for the truth.”
Trotter added that he worries about the impact this decision will have on others who want to hold NFL Media accountable but might be concerned that their job will be terminated if they do.
“There are some brilliant people within the NFL Media group. There are brilliant Black people within the NFL Media group. And they deserve the opportunity to be able to climb the ladder and be in these management positions and whatnot,” said Trotter. “And yet now some of them feel if they speak out on this, they will face retribution. And that’s unfortunate.
“And I would say this to the NFL. If you really feel comfortable about what you’ve done in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion, put out your numbers for each demographic group, on retention and promotion. And let’s compare those numbers. And then we’ll see how you really feel about Black people because I don’t need to see hashtags in the endzone of ‘End Racism’ and I don’t need to see Black Lives Matter on the back of helmets. If you really want to show me how you feel about Black people, let’s take a look at your retention and promotion rates of Black people within the company and then we can have a conversation.”
Trotter, who had previously said that no one from the NFL reached out to him after the Goodell question, also shared some thoughts on Twitter Monday evening in response to the NFL’s assertions that they did have a diverse staff within NFL Media.
Please don't fall for the banana in the tailpipe. In a league that says its player population is 60-70% Black, these men deserve to have someone w/ similar cultural and life experiences at the table when decisions are being made about how they will be covered. Seems appropriate.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) March 28, 2023
“NFL Media told The (NY) Post that 58 percent of full-time employees hired in 2022 were people of color, and that the 3 most recent NFL Media senior hires are POC,” wrote Trotter. “My [question]. How many Black senior managers are in the NEWSROOM (0) & how many full-time Blacks are on the news desk (0)?
“Please don’t fall for the banana in the tailpipe. In a league that says its player population is 60-70% Black, these men deserve to have someone w/ similar cultural and life experiences at the table when decisions are being made about how they will be covered. Seems appropriate.”
Trotter noted in the interview that he will “have a lot to say about it at the appropriate time.” If this was him holding back, we can’t wait to hear his unvarnished thoughts on the NFL and its diversity and inclusion issues.
UPDATE: Goodell was asked on Tuesday evening if Trotter’s questions had anything to do with the NFL not extending his contract.
“I wasn’t part of the decision and actually was made aware about 10 minutes before I walked in,” said Goodell. “No, I don’t believe it had anything to do with it.”
The comments echo Goodell’s initial reaction to Trotter’s question in February when he said “I am not in charge of the newsroom.”