The National Football League said it is investigating a former player and coach's allegations that an official made racially discriminatory comments during a recent job interview.
Eugene Chung said an interviewer told him recently that he was "not the right minority" they were looking for, according to the Boston Globe. He didn't name the official or the team.
“I was blown away, emotionally paralyzed for a split second," he said. "I asked myself, ‘Did I hear that correctly?’ "
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league will review the matter, calling the comment "completely inappropriate."
"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," he said in a statement.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which pushes for diversity in the NFL, called on the league to investigate the incident.
"Alleged comments made to Eugene Chung by an NFL team during a recent interview should be investigated by the NFL," the organization said in a statement obtained by the NFL Network. "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."
Chung, 51, told the Globe that as he was pitching himself to the official, the interviewer interrupted him.
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,’ ” Chung, who is Korean, 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.' So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’ ”
When the person responded that he was "not the right minority we’re looking for," Chung asked the interviewer to explain what they meant.
“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.”
Chung became the league's first Asian-American to get drafted in the first round when he was picked by the Patriots in 1992, according to the Globe. At the time, he was the third Asian and second Korean-American to play in the NFL, the outlet reported.
During his eight years as a professional football player, he played with the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
After stepping away from the game, he became an assistant offensive line coach for the Eagles from 2010 to 2012.
He served in the same role for the Chiefs from 2013 to 2015 before returning to the Eagles the following year. His last coaching gig was in 2019 after his contract with the Eagles ended.
Chung told the Globe that the interviewer's comments underscore a bigger issue that oftentimes Asian Americans aren't viewed as a minority. He said the NFL still has strides to make when it comes to addressing diversity but believes that many of the coaches are accepting.
“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.”