Former NFL columnist Jim Trotter files discrimination lawsuit against league, accusing Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and Bills’ Terry Pegula of racist statements: ‘If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa’

Former columnist Jim Trotter has filed his anticipated discrimination lawsuit against the league, which includes several significant allegations against team owners such as the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and Buffalo Bills’ Terry Pegula. 

In the bombshell lawsuit filed Tuesday in a New York federal court, Trotter recalled an exchange with Jones over the perceived lack of minorities in NFL front offices.  

‘If Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire,’ Jones is accused of telling Trotter. 

Trotter also claims Pegula suggested African-American players should ‘go back to Africa and see how bad it is’ if they’re unhappy with their treatment. 

The Bills issued a statement from Pegula on Tuesday, denying he ever said that: ‘The statement attributed to me in Mr. Trotter’s complaint is absolutely false. I am horrified that anyone would connect me to an allegation of this kind. Racism has no place in our society and I am personally disgusted that my name is associated with the complaint.’

The Cowboys did not immediately respond to’s request for comment.  

Former columnist Jim Trotter filed his anticipated discrimination suit against the NFL

Both Jerry Jones and Terry Pegula are accused of making racist statements in the filing

Both Jerry Jones and Terry Pegula are accused of making racist statements in the filing 

Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula (left) and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (right)

In both cases, Trotter claims he raised the issue with the league, ‘but no remedial action was taken.’

The NFL responded to the lawsuit in a statement on Tuesday, claiming Trotter’s contract was allowed to expire because the league website could no longer afford to keep him on staff.

‘We share Jim Trotter’s passion for quality journalism created in and supported by a diverse and inclusive environment,’ read the statement from league spokesman, Brian McCarthy. ‘We take his concerns seriously, but strongly dispute his specific allegations, particularly those made against his dedicated colleagues at NFL Media.

‘Mr. Trotter’s departure from NFL Media was one of many difficult decisions – similar to decisions recently made by many other media organizations – to address a challenging economy and a changing media environment. Jim was one of many employees who were unfortunately affected by these business decisions.’

Goodell accused of Trotter of having misleading information during one exchange

Goodell accused of Trotter of having misleading information during one exchange 

Rumors of Trotter’s looming lawsuit against the NFL surfaced in March, when he was let go by NFL media following a terse exchange with commissioner Roger Goodell at a Super Bowl press conference a month earlier. 

Trotter, who is African American, confronted Goodell about minority hiring – a topic he also broached with the Commissioner prior to Super Bowl LVI in 2022. 

‘You and other league officials have said that the league’s commitment to diversity, equity inclusion extends beyond the sidelines and front offices and is applied to all aspects of the company,’ Trotter said at Goodell’s February press conference.

‘I’ve worked at NFL Media for five years, during those five years we have never had a black person in senior management in our newsroom,’ continued Trotter. ‘That’s a problem because we cover a league, that according to league data, the player population is 60-70 percent black, which means that there’s no one who looks like these players at the table when decisions are being made about how they are covered.

‘More concerning is that for a year-plus now we have not had a full-time black employee on the news desk, which again is a problem because we cover a league whose player population is 60-70 percent black.

‘I asked you about these things last year and your answer was that the league had fallen short and you were going to review all of your policies and practices to try and improve this and yet a year later nothing has changed.’

Terry Pegula has denied making the racist statement to ex-NFL columnist Jim Trotter

Terry Pegula has denied making the racist statement to ex-NFL columnist Jim Trotter 

Goodell stressed to Trotter that he is ‘not in charge of the newsroom,’ but attempted to answer the question nonetheless.

‘As you point out, it’s the same question you asked last year,’ Goodell said. ‘We did go back and we have reviewed everything we’ve been doing across the league and we are looking at everything from vendors that we’re working with to partners that we’re working with to ownership where we’ve seen significant changes in diversity just this year.’

Goodell did not offer many particulars.

‘I do not know specifically about our media business, and I will check in again with our people, but I’m comfortable that we made significant progress across the league,’ he said. ‘I can’t answer this specific question [and] some of the data you may have raised there may be accurate, may be not. Last year I was told some of it wasn’t. We’ll get to you on that. We want to make progress across the board and that includes in the media room.’