Over the course of his 49-minute question-and-answer session in Phoenix this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke intimately about quite a lot of matters.
He touched on: the league’s worldwide foray into Germany. How the brand new Thursday evening bundle on Amazon Prime impacted viewership. How 47 of the highest 50 tv packages on conventional over-the-air networks in 2022 have been NFL video games and two others have been NFL occasions. How the variety of participant concussions have been up however the variety of accidents general was down.
However when it got here to a difficulty Goodell proclaims to care about, diversity and inclusion in any respect ranges of league energy, on the group stage and past, he out of the blue didn’t have solutions.
He provided drained platitudes, the identical sort which were provided to Black folks for many years.
“There’s progress and we’re happy to see progress, but it surely’s by no means sufficient,” he stated.
“We imagine range makes us stronger,” he stated.
Halfway via the occasion, Jim Trotter, the veteran reporter and NFL Media analyst, requested Goodell an identical query to the one he had requested final yr on the similar session, in regards to the truth there are zero Black executives within the NFL Media newsroom and 0 on the Community’s information desk, which means the editors and duplicate editors who make choices about protection.
Trotter’s query was detailed and truthful. He famous to Goodell that the commissioner has stated the NFL’s dedication to range fairness and inclusion extends past teaching staffs and group entrance workplaces, and that whereas the league’s personal knowledge says 60 to 70 p.c of NFL gamers are Black, amongst those that determine how they’re lined by the league-owned media arm, there isn’t a one who seems to be like them on the desk to affect content material and the way their tales are instructed.
Simply so we’re all on the identical web page, NFL Media is owned and operated by the NFL. The league workplaces in New York set NFL Media’s funds for the yr. Roger Goodell is the commissioner of the NFL, ostensibly liable for the whole lot that falls below the league’s umbrella.
Goodell’s first phrases to Trotter have been these: “I’m not accountable for the newsroom.”
So let me get this straight: the NFL commissioner — a person who reportedly earned practically $130 million to be the face of the league over a two-year interval (2019-2021) — when it got here time to reply for the woefully insufficient hiring practices of NFL Media, Goodell began by primarily saying “not my job” after which stuttered, stammered, bought defensive and tried to passively-aggressively disgrace one of many best sports activities reporters of this or any technology by questioning the veracity of the info?
The shortage of accountability is astonishing. The response, totally embarrassing.
Trotter doesn’t need the applause and isn’t thrilled that he’s receiving a lot consideration for doing what a journalist ought to do by holding a robust particular person to account, however the truth is he put his livelihood on the road in that second. In a time when copying and pasting textual content messages from brokers or executives with no pushback and no context — what we normally name public relations — qualifies one as an “NFL insider,” Trotter confirmed the way it’s speculated to be performed.
As he wrapped his query, Trotter quoted author and civil rights activist James Baldwin when he stated, “I can’t imagine what you say, as a result of I see what you do.”
Goodell was positive to focus on the accelerator program the NFL has instituted, the place aspiring head coaches and basic managers bought face-to-face time with group homeowners, and trumpeted the truth that new Titans basic supervisor Ran Carthon met group proprietor Amy Adams Strunk via this system. That could be a plus, however Carthon wasn’t precisely an unknown commodity; he’s a former participant who spent practically 15 years working up the ladder earlier than Tennessee employed him.
Past that, Goodell talked about imprecise concepts like wanting into issues and gathering info and desirous to see change, empty phrases that point out motion however aren’t really actions.
It’s 2023. The NFL’s media arm has gone years with no Black particular person in higher administration, and at the moment there aren’t any Black folks within the day-to-day decision-making about what’s mentioned on the league-owned community. Requested when that can change, the person who commissions the league mainly shrugged.
Baldwin additionally as soon as stated this: “You all the time instructed me it takes time. It’s taken my father’s time, my mom’s time. My uncle’s time. My brothers’ and my sisters’ time. My nieces’ and my nephews’ time. How a lot time would you like to your progress?”