A veteran sports reporter's exit from an official NFL media outlet is raising questions.
Jim Trotter, formerly with Sports Illustrated and ESPN, announced on Monday morning that he's leaving the league-owned NFL Network at the end of the week.
The highly regarded scribe made waves prior to each of the past two Super Bowls when he aggressively challenged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the league's commitment to diversity.
This year, Trotter's question focused on NFL-affiliated newsrooms, which he said had no Black leaders.
"I've worked at NFL media for five years," Trotter said. "During those five years we've never had a Black person in senior management in our newsroom. That's a problem, because we cover a league who, according to league data, the player population is 60-70% Black, which means that there's no one who looks like these players at the table when decisions are being made about how they're covered. More concerning is that, for a year-plus now, we haven't had a full-time Black employee on the news desk."
Goodell defensively stumbled through a meandering response.
After Goodell denied having any control over the newsrooms, Trotter gestured for a microphone to interject. An agitated Goodell fired back, "Can I answer your question?" He also seemed to question the figures cited by Trotter.
"I do not know specifically about the media business -- we'll check in again with our people. But I'm comfortable that we made significant progress across the league. I can't answer the specific question -- some of the data you 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."
In his announcement tweet on Monday, Trotter obliquely thanked NFL Network and NFL.com "for the lessons learned and affirmed over the last five years."
Many, including Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, interpreted the comment as an allusion to the league's well-known diversity issues, as well as Trotter's raising them to Goodell.
During his February exchange with Goodell, Trotter suggested Goodell's tepid remarks on diversity were hollow.
"As James Baldwin once said, 'I can't believe what you say because I see what you do,'" Trotter said.
For many journalists on social media, Trotter's departure didn't sit right: