Nick Canepa: Accomplished reporter Jim Trotter embarrassed his boss, Roger Goodell, and lost his job

Nick Canepa, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Football

SAN DIEGO — This past week, the NFL con artists painted with their true colors — greenback dollar and yellow stripe.

During Roger Goodell's annual, thrilling State of the NFL Address Q&A session during Super Bowl Week, Jim Trotter, who at the time was working exceptionally well for NFL Media/NFL Network, asked Goodell why there is a lack of Black NFL Media newsroom managers.

Roger not only couldn't answer the question from his employee, instead of Fred Astaire-ing around it as he usually does, he became a verbal stumblebum.

A little more than a month later, the contract of one of the network's most accomplished and respected reporters "wasn't renewed," which is NFL Corporate for: "Jim, bring your playbook … and, oh, get the hell out of here."

If you're a coincidence expert, then you know this didn't make the cut. The bear Jim poked has a thin coat. Constantly on the defensive over his League's awful history of minority hiring practices from reporters not on his payroll, Goodell obviously wasn't going to be too embarrassed by one who is.

The League, which has no problem with 70% of its player population being Black, has three Black head coaches, which is down from last year's five. The Rooney Rule is a busted crutch.

Jim Trotter is a friend, a colleague, a man unafraid, a man of convictions, a family man, and a beacon of Black pride who has pushed on through the headwinds.

He worked for this paper many years, and we traveled together more than often when he covered The NFL Team That Used To Be Here. There were times we went through airport security and the TSA pulled him aside and left me alone. Not difficult to sense the frustration he held inside.

Goodell says he wasn't involved in the process of Jim's release. I don't believe it for a nanosecond, but even if he weren't, he certainly could have nixed the firing.


Whatever Jim plans to do about his dismissal is not my business. He's too good not to land on his feet, and he is not one to go quietly. For him, I will borrow the line from the great Jimmy Cannon on Joe Louis: "Jim Trotter is a credit to his race. The human race."

And I unabashedly wish him the best.

Meanwhile, in yet another salute to the NFL's No. 1 "priority" — player safety — it was announced that it now will be fine for a team to play more than one Thursday night game, that its medics have found no danger in games being held so close to one another.

I haven't played doctor in a long time, but let me just say I'm in favor of it — if there is a bye week before and after them. Thanksgiving Day games are too historically entrenched to be eliminated, but all other Thursday games should go away. Tired players bring us tired football.

There is danger in every football game, let alone one in which players have much less time to physically recover and prepare. If they cared that much about the players, some of the greedy billionaires would stop pinching the buffalo nickel until the poor thing has a bowel movement.

In other words, it ain't happening.

Patrick Mahomes sent a palm face emoji on Twitter after hearing the news. In other words, the MVP isn't pleased. Hard to imagine a single player — or coach, for that matter — looking forward to it. A player of Patrick's stature on a Super Bowl winner knows he's going to be quarterbacking two Thursdays.

We can't say the NFL doesn't care about all its employees and players. There is one green player whose well-being stands above all others. Benjamin's.

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