Jim Trotter has no regrets about pressing the Commissioner in public setting
Make no mistake about it. The NFL does not like to be criticized by those of us in the media. And the league’s tolerance for external scrutiny seems to have dissipated in recent years.
Especially when the call is coming from inside the house.
Former NFL Network employee Jim Trotter found out the hard way what happens when you try to hold Big Shield accountable while residing beneath it. After he publicly pressed Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the NFL Network newsroom, Trotter’s contract was not renewed.
Trotter, who has since been awarded the Bill Nunn Jr. Award in recognition of a career of contributions to the coverage of the NFL, has no regrets for pressing Goodell -- at consecutive pre-Super Bowl press conferences -- on the issue.
“You have to make a decision,” Trotter told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “For me, it’s at a point in my career, a point in my life, where you start to ask yourself, ‘What is your purpose? What impact have you had?’”
Trotter, in sacrificing his employment with the league, has had a major impact. He acted with rare courage and selflessness, putting the interests of others over his own.
It wasn’t a sudden turn for Trotter. It was the culmination of behind-the-scenes efforts that had gone nowhere.
“What people don’t know is that I have been raising the issue internally, really, since I got to the Network in 2018, and more specifically over the past two years that I was there,” Trotter told Bell. “I was raising it to management; I brought it up in various settings internally. So, when you feel like you’re not being heard internally, then the next step is that you have an opportunity to address the Commissioner.”
Indeed he did. Chances are the Commissioner did not appreciate that development. (He has denied having any involvement in the decision to not renew Trotter’s deal.)
“I felt like it was important to do that,” Trotter told Bell. “Because here’s the thing: It’s too important of an issue. When you have a player population that is sixty to seventy percent Black and you don’t have one Black manager in the newsroom, you don’t have one Black employee on the news desk, you are doing a disservice to the player population that you cover. Because there is no one at that decision-making table that shares their cultural experiences or life experiences, to represent their point of view.”
Kudos to Trotter for doing the right thing, with full appreciation of the price he could pay.
“To say we are in a position to make a difference, that it’s imperative that we step up and meet that challenge if we can,” Trotter told Bell.
As Bell notes, when Trotter steps up to receive his award in Canton, Goodell will be in the immediate vicinity. Maybe Goodell will even hand the award to Trotter.
And maybe Trotter will reiterate his concerns again in his acceptance speech.