Jim Trotter’s discrimination lawsuit against the NFL, explained


Jim Trotter is one of the most knowledgeable and well-respected football writers in the country. When he was stunningly let go by the NFL in March it raised eyebrows about the nature of his severance.
Now Trotter is filing a suit against the league, alleging discrimination by the NFL, as well as claiming that the league didn’t care when he shared concerns over racists remarks made by Bills owner Terry Pegula and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Daring to question the shield
Trotter was effectively fired by the NFL in March after he announced he was told his contract wasn’t going to be renewed. It came just over a year after the writer bucked the trend of most NFL-employed journalists by challenging the league and publicly asking commissioner Roger Goodell about the league’s diversity efforts.
The NFL says diversity, equity and inclusion are part of its core principles. The numbers say otherwise, so I asked @nflcommish about it. pic.twitter.com/IJYl7EGdN0 — Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) February 9, 2022
Trotter challenged Goodell’s claim that diversity was a “core principle” of the NFL by noting not only the lack of black owners, coaches, and general managers — but pointing out that nobody in decision-making positions inside the NFL itself were people of color. The question caught Goodell flat-footed, as he struggled to come up with any meaningful answer to the question, speaking around it in platitudes about needing to “do better,” without having a plan or roadmap for how the league would attain more diversity in its ranks.
One year later the league still had no new diversity initiatives in place, and Trotter once again posed the question to Goodell.
The @NFL says its commitment to diversity extends beyond the sideline and front office, but the numbers in the newsroom at the league-owned media group says otherwise. So I asked @nflcommish sbout it. pic.twitter.com/nabWjo0SDm — Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) February 8, 2023
The month following this video Trotter was told he would not return to the NFL newsroom.
This question was the turning point in Trotter’s employment
Trotter claims in November of 2022 he spoke to Sandy Nunez, the NFL’s director of on-air talent relations, who told him there was no reason to believe his contract wouldn’t be renewed. This turned immediately after the February question to Goodell. Nunez allegedly approached Trotter and asked him whether he was “in alignment” with the NFL, essentially questioning whether he had loyalty to the shield.
Trotter claims he was blunt with Nunez, saying he was “not in alignment with a newsroom that does not have Black representation in decision-making positions.” Shortly after this he was informed his contract was not being renewed. It’s Trotter’s belief this came from questioning Goodell on the league’s diversity efforts and challenging Nunez about the lack of diversity in the NFL newsroom.
Allegations of racism from owners
Two key moments are highlighted in the case, both involving two owners. Trotter claims he directly heard racist remarks from Terry Pegula and Jerry Jones, and made complaints to the NFL about them.
Pegula allegedly said about player protests due to social issues:
“If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.”
Trotter claims he complained to the NFL about Pegula’s remarks, but saw no action taken against the owner.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a comment of his own after Trotter questioned Goodell about diversity in the NFL:
“If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire.”
In both instances Trotter said he observed these hostile and discriminatory actions, and when he escalated them through officials channels nothing was done. It has become part of the fabric of the NFL to ignore complaints about racism in the workplace and shield owners from blame.
Both Pegula and Jones are denying they made these comments.
Jerry Jones statement on the allegation made against him in a lawsuit filed by former NFL Network reporter Jim Trotter against the NFL. pic.twitter.com/gx26OR8SSa — Todd Archer (@toddarcher) September 12, 2023
The aims of this lawsuit
Jim Trotter is currently employed as a national NFL writer by The Athletic, however he claims that his actions while in the NFL newsroom caused him to be “blackballed” by the league. In addition to the financial harm he suffered as a result of being let go, he wants to compel the league to diversify their news operation and see more people of color in high levels positions.
Trotter claims that only 17 percent of NFL employees are black, compared to 60-70 percent of players. In addition he notes that there are no black editors, copy-editors, or full-time writers on the NFL newsdesk.
My reasons for filing a retaliation lawsuit against the NFL run deep. They include the following: pic.twitter.com/YWlDPAmJhO — Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) September 12, 2023
The NFL has not responded to Trotter’s lawsuit at this time.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here