The NFL will review allegations that former NFL player and coach Eugene Chung was told during a recent job interview that he was “not the right minority” while interviewing for a job he did not get, the league said in a statement Monday morning.
The decision followed a call from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an independent group that promotes diversity in the NFL, for an investigation.
“That comment is completely inappropriate and contrary to league values and workplace policies,” the league said in its statement. “The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all personnel in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
In its statement, the Alliance wrote: “If the comments regarding his status as a Korean American are true, it’s further evidence the NFL’s actual hiring practices are still riddled with discrimination.”
Chung, 51, played five seasons in the NFL, appearing in 55 career games for the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts.
After his playing career, he served as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, though he hasn’t held a coaching position since being let go by the Eagles after the 2019 season.
He said: “I was like, ‘Wait a minute. The last time I checked, when I looked in the mirror and brushed my teeth, I was a minority.'” According to Chung, after he asked the interviewer to explain, he was told he was “not the right minority that we’re looking for.”
The comments came during an offseason in which the NFL has ramped up efforts to diversify its coaching and executive ranks, for the first time offering draft picks as rewards for teams that develop a minority candidate who is hired as a head coach or general manager.
Currently, there are five head coaches and five general managers in the NFL who are in minority groups.
In comments transcribed last week by The Boston Globe, which hosted the webinar, Chung said he was told, “Well, you’re not really a minority.”
Chung did not identify the team in question but said he was stunned to hear such a comment.
“I asked about it, and as soon as the backtracking started, I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no, no, you said it. Now that it’s out there, let’s talk about it,'” Chung said. “It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that, in 2021, something like that is actually a narrative.”
But Chung wouldn’t point a finger at the NFL for the incident or his treatment.
“I’m not sitting here bashing the league at all, because there are great mentors and there are great coaches that embrace the difference,” Chung said. “It’s just when the Asians don’t fit the narrative, that’s where my stomach churns a little bit.”