Roger Goodell gives his annual state of the NFL address

Roger Goodell held his annual state of the NFL address ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl and the commissioner scrambled to counter the league’s obvious diversity issue.

The league’s lack of minority head coaches, executives, and owners has been documented, but the NFL has a similar diversity issue with its media operations. During Goodell’s annual press conference, NFL Media reporter Jim Trotter asked the commissioner to speak on the league’s diversity problem at NFL Media and his response was cringe-worthy.

“You and other league officials have said that the league’s commitment to diversity equity and inclusion extend beyond the sidelines and beyond the front offices,” Trotter began his question to Goodell. “And it’s applied to all aspects of the company. I’ve worked in NFL Media for five years. During those five years, we’ve never had a Black person in senior management in our newsroom. That’s a problem because we cover a league who according to league data, the player population is 60 to 70% Black which means that there is no one who looks like these players at the table when decisions are being made about how they are covered.

“More concerning is that for a year plus now, we have never had a full-time Black employee on the news desk,” Trotter continued. “Which again is a problem because we cover a league because player population is 60 to 70%. Black according to league data. I asked you about these things last year and what you told me is that the league had fallen short, you were going to review all of your policies and practices to try and improve this. And yet a year later, nothing has changed. You know, James Baldwin once said that ‘I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.’ And so I would ask you as an employee, when are we in the newsroom, going to have a Black person in senior management and when will we have a full-time Black employee on the news desk?”

Trotter’s detailed and well-thought question provided Goodell with 80 seconds to come up with an answer. Actually, Goodell had a full year to prepare for this question because Trotter asked the commissioner to address the same topic at his state of the league address in 2022. With that time to prepare, Goodell decided his best course of action was to plead ignorance.

“I am not in charge of the newsroom,” Goodell said before he began to stammer. “Can I answer your question? As you point out, it’s the same question you asked last year. And we did go back and we have reviewed everything we’ve been doing across the league. And we are looking at everything from vendors that we’re working with, to partners that we’re working with, to ownership where we’ve seen significant changes in diversity just this year. And I do not know specifically about the media business.

“We’ll check in again with our people,” Goodell added. “But I am comfortable that we made significant progress across the league. I can’t answer the specific questions. Some of the data you may have raised there may be accurate, may be not. Last year, I was told some of it wasn’t. We’ll get to you on that. We want to make progress across the board. And that includes in the media room. And so those are things that we’ll continue to look at and hopefully make real progress to. I can’t answer because I do not know specifically what those numbers are today.”

Goodell might claim to be comfortable in believing the NFL has made significant progress on diversity, but there was nothing comfortable about the way he answered Trotter’s question. The NFL commissioner didn’t even fake accountability for the league’s media diversity problem. Instead, he attempted to pass the blame by claiming he doesn’t know about the industry. Even more deplorable than Goodell’s tactic of wiping his hands clean of any responsibility, was the commissioner accusing Trotter of misrepresenting the severity of the league’s diversity problem.

Claiming Trotter offered inaccurate data on diversity last year and might be doing the same again, without offering any statistics to support his claim was a gross copout and an embarrassing display of self-defense by the league’s commissioner.

[NFL Network]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to