At a time in which the NFL has become a Teflon juggernaut despite its glaring issues, and in a moment in which those on the left, right, and the middle are calling for fairness and balance, Monday morning was an example of why those desires are rarely fulfilled. For the last two years, veteran NFL reporter Jim Trotter has held Roger Goodell accountable by asking him tough — but fair — questions about the league’s lack of diversity amongst coaches, front offices, and within the NFL Media Group at the Commissioner’s annual televised press conference at the Super Bowl.
Each time, Goodell looked rattled, fumbled through his words, gave incomplete answers, and said things that don’t appear to be true. Almost seven weeks later, Trotter took to social media to announce that he won’t be an employee of the NFL Media Group once the week ends.
Only a fool would think this a coincidence.
“Some personal news: This will be my final week with the NFL Media Group. I was informed over the weekend that my contract is not being renewed. I thank NFL Network and NFL.com for the lessons learned and affirmed over the last five years,” Trotter tweeted.
The last sentence is the one folks should pay close attention to, as it’s a case study in saying “y’all are what I thought y’all were,” but in a politically correct way that doesn’t make Trotter sound like an angry Black man, even when he has the right to be, given that his Blackness and asking the powers that be why race is a consistent issue in the NFL sure looks like why one of the best journalists in the game is now a free agent.
Racism. Violence against women. Race-norming. CTE. Name a social or serious issue that routinely occurs in the NFL and this league — and Goodell — will find a way to dodge the questions and eventually throw money at the problem instead of addressing it. And since the conversation around the lack of Black coaches in the NFL and the absence of diversity throughout the league has been louder than it’s ever been, Trotter has been one of the most consistent voices in the room asking the questions that need to be asked.
“Why does the NFL and its owners have such a difficult time, at the highest levels, hiring Black people into decision-making positions?” he asked Goodell at the Super Bowl in 2022.
Before he asked that, Trotter provided context about how most of the league’s franchises have had only one or zero Black coaches, how there still hasn’t been a Black majority owner, and the continued lack of diversity at NFL Media Group, where Black people are never, or are rarely in charge, of making decisions about a league that’s majority Black.
And at last month’s Super Bowl, Trotter again asked Goodell about the league’s lack of diversity.
“And yet a year later, nothing has changed,” Trotter said to the Commissioner after listing some facts. “James Baldwin once said, ‘I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”
Yet again, Goodell looked stupid as he didn’t have an answer. But this time, he was visibly agitated as there was nothing he could do about a legit question being asked by a reporter that his league hired. These leagues can’t have it both ways.
Weeks later, the writing was on the wall as NFL Media posted a screenshot on social media of who was going to be on the air discussing free agency, while everyone but Trotter seemed to be included.
Hiring tried and true journalists only to get mad when they stand by their journalistic ethics and ask you sound questions with facts and context is either arrogance at its finest, moronic, or somewhere in the middle.
Between Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche — the man who broke the Colin Kaepernick story — the media group of the biggest league in this country employed two of the best journalists in the business, regardless of gender and race, who just happened to be Black. One of them won’t be around anymore. And that’s something that shouldn’t be ignored, given that later this week the person that was in the middle of this — Goodell — is expected to receive a contract extension that will pay him more than the approximately $63.9 million he made during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years.
Jim Trotter didn’t do anything wrong. He just made the rich guy who makes the even richer guys, richer, look stupid on TV because he just wanted to know why Black people can’t get hired. Now he’s out of a job, and will probably be replaced by a white person with a pinch of his talent.