Oct 21, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; United States ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson (left) and his brother New York Jets CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson before a game against the Minnesota Vikings at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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Fritz Pollard Alliance ‘troubled’ by claims against Jets owner

The Fritz Pollard Alliance said Thursday it is “deeply troubled” by allegations of racist and sexist comments made by New York Jets owner Woody Johnson during his tenure as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.

The Alliance, which promotes diversity and equal opportunity in the NFL, released a statement from chairman Harry Carson and executive director Rod Graves, reading:

“The Fritz Pollard Alliance (FPA) is deeply troubled by allegations of insensitive remarks about race and gender made by New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson while serving abroad as U.S. Ambassador. Allegations of this nature, if true, are damaging to the social fabric of our country and (cannot) be tolerated. While only allegations at this point, they are serious.

“We call on the NFL to carefully monitor this situation and, if the allegations have merit, to take appropriate action and work toward rooting out such sentiments from the NFL community.”

CNN reported Wednesday that a State Department watchdog looked into claims that Johnson made racist comments about Black men and “cringeworthy” sexist comments about women’s looks.

The report said investigators began looking into Johnson in the fall of 2019, with staff from the Office of the Inspector General traveling to London multiple times over the past year to interview embassy employees and Johnson himself. Johnson did not deny the specific allegations, telling CNN it was an “honor of a lifetime” to serve as ambassador, a role that he took in August 2017 and which is set to end later this year.

The Jets have not released a statement on the matter.

Johnson, 73, purchased the Jets in 2000 for $635 million. His younger brother, Christopher, is a minority owner and serves and the team’s chairman and CEO.

The FPA voiced a separate concern Wednesday night, with Graves telling ESPN the FPA sent inquiries to the NFL and the Washington franchise questioning whether the team followed the Rooney Rule in hiring two executives this week.

The Rooney Rule was expanded in May to require teams and the league office to interview minority or female candidates for senior executive positions, including those outside of football operations.

Washington hired Terry Bateman as executive vice president and chief marketing officer on Monday and Julie Donaldson as senior vice president of media on Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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