Jim Trotter has dared to poke the bear during two consecutive pre-Super Bowl press conferences. He believes the bear has now poked back.
Appearing on Peacock’s Brother From Another, Trotter said he believes his termination by NFL Media was influenced at least in part by his public questioning of Commissioner Roger Goodell on matters of diversity in the NFL Media newsroom.
“I will have a lot to say about it at the appropriate time, which is not now,” Trotter told Michael Holley. “What 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 whether it’s our own employer or someone else. . . .
“One of the things the NFL always said internally was, ‘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 later explained that all he was trying to do in asking his questions “is make the company better.”
He also mentioned the potential chilling effect that his termination will have on others who dare to speak up on these issues within NFL Media, or within the NFL more broadly. They will fear retribution, given that Trotter has apparently experienced it.
Although Trotter never comes out and says it, the hints are there of a potential lawsuit against the NFL. And if he believes that his termination arises in whole or in part from his effort to press the Commissioner or others on these issues, he should sue.
And he could win.
As long as his contract doesn’t include an arbitration clause allowing the Commissioner to preside over and resolve the case.