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Sport: Opinion: NFL, Roger Goodell completely failed Eugene Chung after racist incident

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Former lineman and assistant coach Eugene Chung wanted to meet with Roger Goodell after experiencing a racist incident . NFL declined -- a big mistake.

Eugene Chung is on a Zoom call with a handful of journalists, and in this emotional and powerful moment, making his first extensive public comments since experiencing a disgustingly racist incident during an interview with an NFL team, he is calm, reflective, smart and honorable.

a group of people sitting around a baseball field: Former Eagles assistant line coach Eugene Chung © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports Former Eagles assistant line coach Eugene Chung

Chung, a former NFL player and assistant coach, has handled the aftermath of that incident with decency and class.

The same, however, cannot be said about the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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Former lineman and assistant coach Eugene Chung wanted to meet with Roger Goodell after experiencing a racist incident . NFL declined -- a big mistake. [Author: USA TODAY].

After the announcement, the NFL and Chung joined hands to prevent similar incidents from happening. Fast forward 25 days, and Chung has some questions about the NFL 's commitment to preventing such an incident from occurring again. Has the NFL dropped the ball on the Eugene Chung situation? "Every single coach and personnel executive that I have reached out to regarding this matter has said they haven't been contacted by the NFL during its review process." Eugene Chung has attempted to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after more recent information came to light.

Chung mentioned one remarkable fact that illustrates just how badly the NFL mishandled what happened to him. Chung told the Boston Globe in May that during an interview with one unnamed team, he was told that: "Well, you're not really a minority."

“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,’ " Chung said then. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’ "

Chung has declined to name the individual who made the remark.

The NFL launched an investigation, and Chung said he was interviewed by the NFL once, and his representatives spoke with the league's security arm several times.

The NFL reviewed Chung's allegations and said this month in a statement: “After multiple discussions, including with Mr. Chung and his representative, we were unable to confirm the precise statement that was made, or by whom and under what circumstances any such statement was made.”

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Former NFL player and coach Eugene Chung is still waiting to meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding an anti-Asian comment he says a team made about him during a job interview this year. Chung said on a conference call Monday the league never told him why a requested meeting Chung , who spent time with five teams as a player and coached with the Eagles and Chiefs, has not identified the coach who he says told him that Asian Americans were “not the right minority” in the NFL . The NFL reviewed the matter and said this month that after “multiple discussions”, including Chung

After Chung said he was told he “wasn’t the right minority” during a job interview with an NFL team, the league launched an investigation before releasing a statement July 1 that deflected Chung ’s claim. On a conference call with reporters Monday, Chung expressed his disappointment, labeling the NFL ’s He also is seeking a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell . In its July 1 statement, the league said, “ After multiple discussions, including with Mr. Chung and his representative, we were unable to confirm the precise statement that was made, or by whom and under what circumstances

This is the part that's stunning. Chung explained he asked to speak with Goodell but said that request was denied.

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The NFL released a statement Monday afternoon that read: "We embrace the opportunity to work with Eugene to hear his ideas on how we can better advance employment opportunities throughout the League, both for Asian-Americans and for all underrepresented groups. As we have made him aware, we welcome meeting with him, and have at no time, turned down requests to discuss these important issues with our staff, including the Commissioner."

The statement added that Asians and Pacific Islanders are a minority under the NFL's diversity policy.

If you're asking me who I believe, it's not the NFL.

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"I'm not letting this comment define who I am as a person, player or coach," Chung said on the call with reporters. "I just want to make sure no one else has to go through what I did."

When one of your players endures this type of discrimination, it's Goodell's job to get heavily involved and find out not just what happened, but a solution. This is where a commissioner should get those hands dirty. You don't shift something like this to lieutenants. You dig in yourself.

But Goodell, so far, has done the opposite. How Goodell and the NFL have handled Chung, at arm's distance, is typical of how the league has mishandled issues of race during the Goodell era. The most blatant example is of course Colin Kaepernick, who was blackballed by the league. The NFL never fully embraced the peaceful protests and only did after the murder of George Floyd.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people,” Goodell said in a videotaped message last year. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter.”

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It took a heinous killing for Goodell to finally acknowledge what the players were doing, which was bringing attention to systemic racism and police brutality.

The NFL has struggled in hiring coaches of color, and race-normed its own players in a league that’s approximately 70 percent Black.

The reaction to Chung is another example of a league, and commissioner, who often just don’t get it when it comes to race. It also sounds like the NFL's investigation into the remark was superficial at best. Chung said that none of the coaches he knows in the league were contacted by the NFL.

“I know people I have talked to, head coaches and people high up in the executive offices, who knew nothing about it,” he said of the investigation. “I’m not interested in outing anybody; it’s irrelevant. The mere fact that statement was made to me raised a lot of questions on my behalf.

“My goal is to find out whether Asians are considered a minority (by the NFL)," he said. "There is legitimate confusion, and when the statement was made, it was shocking. I want to get clarity and clarification on whether Asians are considered a minority when it comes to the hiring process. I want to get that out there and answered.”

The phrase is overused, but it's accurate in this case: The NFL could have used this as a teachable moment. Goodell could have embraced Chung, listened to him and learned from him.

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Instead, the NFL took a different approach. The wrong one.

The league Goodell'd it.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Opinion: NFL, Roger Goodell completely failed Eugene Chung after racist incident

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