A lawsuit claims that the Bills' owner, Terry Pegula, is alleged to have made a racist remark
A racial discrimination lawsuit filed by longtime reporter Jim Trotter alleges that Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula made a racist comment about Black NFL players in 2020. According to the lawsuit, Pegula's comment during a conversation about the NFL's social justice initiatives and Black Lives Matter was, "If the Black players don't like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is." Trotter, who is Black, claims that he urged NFL Media executives to investigate Pegula's comments but was repeatedly brushed off, being told that the league office was handling it. Pegula has denied making the comment.
The lawsuit also mentions Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who allegedly told Trotter in 2020 that "If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire." Jones disputes the representation of this conversation, stating that it is not accurate.
"Diversity and inclusion hold immense personal and NFL significance," stated Jones. "Jim Trotter's portrayal of a conversation from over three years ago, involving myself and our VP of Player Personnel, Will McClay, is unequivocally inaccurate."
Trotter's tenure at NFL Media, which oversees the NFL Network, concluded earlier this year. His lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, names the NFL and NFL Network as defendants, alleging that his termination was a response to challenging Commissioner Roger Goodell and others regarding the NFL's record of race discrimination and lack of diversity.
The NFL issued a statement countering Trotter's claims, expressing a shared commitment to quality journalism within a diverse and inclusive environment. They disputed his specific allegations, particularly those directed at dedicated colleagues at NFL Media, attributing Trotter's contract non-renewal to business decisions in response to a challenging economy and evolving media landscape.
Trotter seeks unspecified damages and calls for a comprehensive investigation into discriminatory and retaliatory behavior by individuals in positions of power within the NFL, including team owners. The lawsuit argues that equitable measures are necessary given the NFL's inability to self-regulate effectively.
Trotter is represented by the same law firm as former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who sued the NFL and three teams last year, alleging discriminatory hiring practices in coaching searches. Trotter, who previously covered the NFL for ESPN and currently works for The Athletic, filed the lawsuit to advocate for what is right and hopes it drives tangible change within the league and newsroom environments.