Bills Owner Terry Pegula Responds to Racist Comment Claims in NFL Lawsuit

Terry Pegula

Getty Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula at Acrisure Stadium on August 19, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills are having a rough start to the 2023 NFL season. Following the Bills’ disastrous 22-26 loss to the New York Jets in Week 1 on Monday Night Football, the team’s owner Terry Pegula, found himself embroiled in Jim Trotter’s discrimination lawsuit filed against the NFL and the league-owned cable channel.

Trotter, a former NFL Network reporter, who now works as a columnist for The Athletic, claimed his contract was not renewed after publicly challenging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the league’s diversity commitment. Trotter wrote in a statement on Tuesday, September 12, “The NFL has claimed it wants to be held accountable regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. I tried to do so, and it cost me my job.”

In the 53-page complaint filed in federal court in New York, Trotter accuses Pegula of making a racist statement during an NFL Media Zoom call with “approximately 40 newsroom employees,” in September 2020 amid a conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The lawsuit states, “An NFL Media reporter described” to Trotter that Mr. Pegula stated, ‘If the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.'”

Trotter says in the complaint, “This remark was so offensive and racist that the people in the meeting appeared to be frozen, unsure how to even react.” The lawsuit states these comments were “swept under the rug” after he complained, and “the NFL did absolutely nothing.”

Later in the lawsuit, Pegula, who also owns the Buffalo Sabres, and has an estimated net worth of $6.8 billion, is accused of calling former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick a “media problem” during a meeting among owners, players, and league executives, in October 2017, and advocated the NFL to hire a Black spokesman. Per the complaint, Pegula said, “For us to have a face, as an African-American, at least a face that could be in the media, we could be falling behind in that.”

In addition to Pegula, several high-level NFL employees, along with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, former Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, are mentioned in the complaint.

Trotter concluded his statement on Tuesday, “I hope this lawsuit leads to real change across the league and in the newsroom. It is on the backs of a majority black player population that owners have made billions and those players deserve to have someone who shares their cultural and life experiences at the table when decisions are being made about how they are being covered”

Terry Pegula Called the Accusations in Jim Trotter’s Complaint ‘Absolutely False’

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Pegula released a statement denying the allegations. “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,” Pegula said. “Racism has no place in our society and I am personally disgusted that my name is associated with this complaint.”

While users on X, formerly known as Twitter, debated whether to believe Pegula or Trotter, “a source told The Buffalo News that the alleged comment was thoroughly investigated, including interviews with Terry and his wife and co-owner, Kim Pegula – who both denied the statement – and every other person at the dinner where this conversation purportedly took place.

“The investigation took place shortly after the comment was brought to the league’s attention, and no one else from the dinner recalled the statement being made,” according to the outlet’s source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The NFL Said Jim Trotter was Let Go Due to a ‘Challenging Economy’

The NFL also shared a statement denying Trotter’s claims. “We share Jim Trotter’s passion for quality journalism created in and supported by a diverse and inclusive environment. We take his concerns seriously, but strongly dispute his specific allegations,” the statement read.

According to the NFL, Trotter was let go due to financial constraints and called his departure “one of many difficult decisions” forced to be made “to address a challenging economy and a changing media environment…. We appreciate Jim’s five years of service at NFL Media and wish him much success in his new role.”

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Anthony Thompson
Anthony Thompson
11 days ago

Where is Media Zoom Call that he says this?