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Eugene Chung, a former NFL offensive lineman and assistant coach, was told that he was “not the right minority” — a remark that “emotionally paralyzed” him.
What happened: Chung, who is Korean American, recalled the surprising comment to The Boston Globe.
- While he was being interviewed for an NFL coaching position this off-season, the 51-year-old was sharing his achievements — which include 10 years of coaching experience and five seasons as an offensive tackle — when one interviewer stopped him and said, “Well, you’re really not a minority.”
- The interviewer then declared, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for” after Chung had him clarify what he meant.
- “It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that in 2021, something like that is actually a narrative,” Chung said, without naming the team in question.
- In sharing the incident, Chung pointed out that he was not bashing the league at all, but his “stomach churns a little bit” whenever Asians “don’t fit the narrative,” ABC News reported.
What the NFL is doing: The league addresses diversity through the Rooney Rule, a policy established in 2003 that makes it mandatory for teams to consider ethnic-minority candidates for senior operation and head coaching jobs.
- According to NFL Communications, the rule “is named after the late former Pittsburgh Steelers owner and chairman of the league’s diversity committee, Dan Rooney.”
- It was created in response to the firings of African American head coaches Dennis Green, of the Minnesota Vikings, and Tony Dungy, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in 2002.
- Currently, there are only three African American head NFL coaches, the same number as in 2003 when the Rooney Rule took effect, according to the NFL.
- Last November, the league approved 2020 Resolution JC-2A, which will “compensate teams with draft picks for losing minority staff members to head coaching jobs and other premium positions elsewhere,” according to USA Today.
Chung was the first Korean American who was drafted in the 1992 NFL Draft. He was also the third person of Asian descent to play in the NFL.
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