Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula faces allegations of making a racist remark targeting Black NFL players. These claims come from a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the league by seasoned reporter Jim Trotter on Tuesday.
Trotter’s lawsuit centers around a 2020 conversation he alleges a fellow NFL Media reporter had with Pegula. During this discussion, Pegula reportedly discussed the NFL’s social justice initiatives and the Black Lives Matter movement. The unidentified reporter claimed that Pegula said, “If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.” This statement was shared during a Zoom call with approximately 40 NFL Media colleagues. Bills Bills
Jim Trotter, who is Black, responded by pressing executives at NFL Media to investigate Pegula’s comments, characterizing them as “highly offensive and racist.” However, he claims that his concerns were consistently brushed aside, with responses indicating that “the league office is investigating it.”
Terry Pegula has vehemently denied making the alleged comment, stating, “The statement attributed to me in Mr. Trotter’s complaint is absolutely false. I am horrified that anyone would connect me to an allegation of this kind. Racism has no place in our society, and I am personally disgusted that my name is associated with this complaint.” Bills Bills Bills Bills
Involvement of Jerry Jones
The lawsuit also brings Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones into the spotlight. Trotter alleges that Jones told him in 2020, “If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire.” This comment supposedly emerged during a conversation involving Cowboys executive Will McClay, who is Black, and Trotter, regarding the underrepresentation of Black decision-makers in NFL teams.
Jerry Jones refutes these allegations, asserting that the lawsuit’s “representation” of his exchange with Trotter is “simply not accurate.” He emphasizes his commitment to diversity and inclusion within the NFL.
Trotter’s Employment and Lawsuit
Jim Trotter’s tenure at NFL-owned NFL Media, responsible for overseeing the NFL Network, came to an end earlier this year. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the South District of New York, names the NFL and NFL Network as defendants. Trotter claims his termination resulted from his efforts to challenge Commissioner Roger Goodell and others concerning the NFL’s track record of race discrimination and lack of diversity.
The NFL has issued a statement disputing Trotter’s allegations. While expressing support for Trotter’s commitment to quality journalism in a diverse environment, the league strongly disputes specific allegations, particularly those made against Trotter’s colleagues at NFL Media. The NFL contends that Trotter’s contract was not renewed due to business decisions aimed at addressing economic challenges and a changing media landscape.
In his lawsuit, Trotter seeks unspecified damages and calls for a “full-scale investigation into the discriminatory and/or retaliatory animus of all persons in positions of power within the NFL, including the NFL team owners.” He argues that the NFL and team owners have demonstrated an inability to self-regulate, making these equitable measures necessary. Bills Bills Bills
Notably, Trotter is represented by the same law firm as former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who sued the NFL and three teams last year, accusing them of discriminatory hiring practices in coaching searches. Trotter, previously an NFL reporter for ESPN and currently with The Athletic, has stated his motivation for filing the lawsuit, expressing his commitment to fighting for what is right and hoping it “leads to real change across the league and in the newsroom.”
Please note that information from The Associated Press was used in this report.