Two months after former San Diego sportswriter Jim Trotter sued the National Football League over his termination and other issues, the NFL has called an audible.
The league, his employer of five years, plans to file a motion to dismiss Trotter’s case instead of tackling his claims at trial.
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, representing several NFL entities, wrote federal Judge Paul A. Crotty in New York “to set forth the bases for the NFL’s intended motions to dismiss the complaint and to stay discovery.”
Her four-page letter Friday rejects Trotter’s contention that his contract wasn’t renewed because of his tough Super Bowl Week questioning of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the league’s lack of Black hiring in front offices and head coaching ranks.
“While Plaintiff attempts to characterize his March 2023 non-renewal as retaliation for having ‘publicly challenged’ the NFL Commissioner on the NFL’s diversity efforts at a February 2023 press conference, Plaintiff concedes that he posed the exact same questions to the Commissioner at a prior conference — and remained employed for more than a year afterward,” Lynch writes.
Trotter, 60, worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune for 18 years before moving to Sports Illustrated and later ESPN.
The Chula Vista resident now is a senior writer for The Athletic, a New York Times property, and is expected to teach journalism students at San Diego State University next year.
NBC Sports quoted Trotter attorney Doug Wigdor as saying: “We are very confident any motion to dismiss will be unsuccessful and is simply an attempt to delay, which is why they are also requesting a stay of discovery.”
Mike Florio of NBC Sports added: “Notably absent from Lynch’s letter is any reference whatsoever to an attempt to force the case into NFL-controlled arbitration. Trotter’s contract contained no such clause preventing him from seeking relief in open court.”
In her 800-word letter, Lynch told the judge that Trotter had a two-year contract until 2020 and a three-year renewal ending in 2023.
But in March 2023, she said, Trotter’s contract expired and — “as part of a broader cost-cutting measure and strategic shift away from traditional broadcast journalism and towards interactive media — the NFL made the decision not to renew the contracts of several reporters, including” Trotter.
Lynch says the NFL explained that to Trotter and “is well documented.”
Thus she rejects his claims.
“The facts will show that there was nothing retaliatory or discriminatory about the decision not to renew Plaintiff’s contract,” wrote Lynch, who was Eric Holder’s successor as attorney general in the Obama administration.
“Even on its face, however, the Complaint is fatally deficient, and it should therefore be dismissed,” she added.
Trotter’s reaction to the Lynch letter?
“It was expected,” he told me via direct message on X.