Eugene Chung played in the NFL for nearly a decade and has spent even longer coaching at football's highest level. He spent a full 10 seasons coaching in the league for the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. He won a ring as part of the Eagles' Super Bowl LII squad.
Chung spent 2020 out of the NFL and is working to get back in when, he said, he encountered first-hand the thick-headed thinking in regards to race that still exists in the NFL.
From the Boston Globe:
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,’ ” Chung told the Globe on Tuesday in an exclusive interview.
Chung, who is Korean, froze.
“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,’ ” he said. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’ ”
The interviewer responded, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for.”
Asians are all too often written out of our country's troubled racial history, and when they are included, they're commonly pitted against other races as the "model minority," which is harmful in its own right.
That's even more the case in football, where Asians are a fraction of a fraction. Chung was just the third person of Asian-American descent to play in the NFL when he entered the league as the 13th overall pick in the 1992 draft.
Chung's story has, understandably, made waves across the NFL, and on Monday the league's spokesman said the NFL is looking into it.
“We will review the matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. “That comment is completely inappropriate and contrary to league values and workplace policies. 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.”
The NFL's statement followed a call by the Fritz Pollard Alliance to investigate the matter.
“Alleged comments made to Eugene Chung by an NFL team during a recent interview should be investigated by the NFL,” Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves said. “If the comments regarding his status as a Korean American are true, it is further evidence that despite good faith changes to diversity-related policies, the NFL’s actual hiring practices are still riddled with discrimination.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance takes its name from a Black Pro and College Football Hall of Famer and is typically heard from in regards to the hiring of Black coaches and executives. But the FPA stepping forward on Chung's behalf is an important reminder -- one that needs heeding by at least one NFL executive -- that "Black" and "minority" are not one and the same.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.