Buffalo Bills co-owner Terry Pegula’s name has been included in a lawsuit recently filed by Jim Trotter, in which the former NFL Network reporter claims Pegula has been the subject of racial discrimination.
Trotter’s suit comes after he claims that his contract with the league-owned cable channel was not renewed because he challenged NFL president Roger Goodell on the lack of diversity at the NFL’s highest positions including coaches and positions within the league office.
“The N.F.L. has claimed it wants to be held accountable regarding diversity, equity and inclusion,” Trotter said in a statement reported by The New York Times. “I tried to do so, and it cost me my job.”
It’s important to note that the NFL does have rules ensuring that teams interview minorities when looking for new coaching staff. The Rooney Rule requires that teams interview diverse candidates for head-coaching and general-manager positions. The rule has been updated several times since its inception in 2003 and now includes a requirement that a minority and/or female from outside the organization must also be interviewed for any vacant quarterback coach’s position.
While Pegula isn’t listed as a co-defendant specifically, as a team owner he’s being sued collectively with the other 31 NFL team owners. However, Trotter specifically mentions Pegula, along with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as having made racially charged statements at various times and uses the alleged incidents to support his claim that the NFL isn’t addressing a lack of diversity.
From the Jim Trotter complaint against the NFL. Note the quotes attributed to Jerry Jones and Terry Pegula. pic.twitter.com/mAQz27QxuR— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 12, 2023
According to Trotter’s complaint, Pegula made a comment about players’ protests against racial injustices happening across the nation — specifically after the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, what isn’t shown in the initial complaint, is that Trotter himself wasn’t witness to Pegula’s supposed statement, rather he “heard it from a colleague” that the Bills’ owner had made the derogatory marks.
While Trotter’s complaint also says that “no remedial action was taken” after the alleged Pegula incident; however, the league said that they looked into the complaint in 2020 and that they could not find any corroboration for the claim.
Pegula himself vehemently denies having made the statement and said that he is “horrified that anyone would connect [him] to an allegation of this kind.”
Bills’ head coach Sean McDermott spoke up on behalf of Pegula this week, saying that the claims are not in line with the character of the man he knows.
Sean McDermott on the alleged Terry Pegula comments included in lawsuit filed by Jim Trotter: "We put out an internal thing yesterday here with the leadership group and in the 6 years ... that I've known Terry Pegula, that is not his character and that's not the man that I know"— Alaina Getzenberg (@agetzenberg) September 13, 2023
For more information on the suit itself, visit SB Nation’s report on the issue.