NewsHBCU Players Go Undrafted

HBCU Players Go Undrafted

Orlando Arnold, an alumni of Alabama State and a certified agent who has represented four clients from HBCUs told The Athletic that although the old adage of “if you can play, they will find you” remains true, more work goes into visibility at HBCUs. “I don’t think they have a downright bias; it’s more of HBCUs aren’t a priority,” Arnold said. “For so long, there has been this notion that if you can play they will find you — and that still remains true. However, at HBCUs, so much has to go into making sure a player is seen. Does he have the stats? Does he have the measurables, etc.? Are the pro liaisons for the schools being proactive with scouts and evaluators and informing them of the player? At the end of the day, especially with the transfer portal, we aren’t getting that many NFL-caliber players like we used to.”

Arnold’s point about the transfer portal changing how players move among football subdivisions is true, and the only thing, in truth, that would drive NFL teams to look at HBCUs is if there were a mass exodus of four and five-star talents to HBCUs, like there was when Black players couldn’t choose to play at FCS schools. Trotter also indicated that he believes that the fight within the NFL for the equitable treatment of Black employees is a real one, but that creating a narrative that the NFL has a vendetta against players from HBCUs does a disservice to that credible fight. 

This was sent to me. ⁦@nflcommish⁩ simply doesn’t care or doesn’t want to know. The data is what it is: the NFL newsroom has zero Black managers, zero Black copy editors, and zero fulltime Black employees on the news desk. Those are facts. Nothing he says changes that.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) February 5, 2024

To Trotter’s point, The National Association of Black Journalists called for a meeting with the NFL in February ahead of the Super Bowl after they noted no changes in the NFL’s hiring practices for media members. As USA Today reported, Trotter, a former employee of NFL Media, did not have his contract renewed after he pointedly asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell if he planned to address the lack of Black media members. In response, Trotter filed a lawsuit against the league for wrongful termination. 

Goodell was asked during Super Bowl media week in February by KLKC reporter Darren Smith if the league planned to address the dearth of Black hirings in media, and Goodell responded, “Well, I disagree completely that there hasn’t been any change. I’m happy to get your data and share it with our people and make sure that we get an answer for you. I don’t have all the data. I will tell you that (for) the first time, 51 percent of our employees across the league, across the network, across all of our media platforms, not including players, are either people of color or women.”

 In a press release, NABJ President Ken Lemon, NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Walter Smith Randolph, and NABJ Vice President of Print Kathy Cheney released a joint statement earlier in February which emphasized their disappointment over the league’s lack of progress in hiring Black media members. “As the NFL gears up for one of the most watched events in the world, it should not feel comfortable knowing that its news arm does not reflect the diversity of its players, audience and event participants. We are challenging the NFL to make a serious effort to address these inequities now,” said the NABJ executives. “A failure to move quickly to resolve this matter reflects an insensitivity to the importance of having NFL stories told by diverse voices.”

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Source: Black Enterprise


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