The Buffalo Bills owner, Jim Pegula, has denied allegations that he made racist comments about his own players.
The claims are made in a lawsuit filed by Jim Trotter, a journalist who formerly worked for NFL Media. He says the league and its broadcasting arm did not renew his contract after he raised concerns about the lack of diversity among NFL executives, coaches and journalists.
In one section of the 53-page lawsuit, Trotter claims that he witnessed Pegula saying that “if the Black players don’t like it here, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it is.” The alleged quote came in 2020 when NFL players were protesting against racial injustice in the United States.
“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 in a statement on Tuesday. “Racism has no place in our society and I am personally disgusted that my name is associated with this complaint.”
Trotter also claims that during a conversation with Jerry Jones in 2020, he asked the Dallas Cowboys owner about the lack of Black executives in the NFL. Trotter alleges Jones replied that “if Blacks feel some kind of way, they should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire”.
The Dallas Cowboys have not replied to requests for comment on the allegations.
Trotter says the NFL told him not to mention Jones’s alleged comments on air. The league denied the allegations in a statement on Tuesday.
“We take his concerns seriously, but strongly dispute his specific allegations, particularly those made against his dedicated colleagues at NFL Media,” read the statement. The league says it did not renew his contract due to budget constraints.
Trotter now works for The Athletic. “The NFL should be ashamed of the racial animus openly expressed by team owners and a complete lack of action by the league after being put on notice,” said Trotter’s lawyers, Doug Wigdor and David Gottlieb, in a statement.