NFL assistant coach Eugene Chung says he was told Asians are not the “right minority” when he interviewed for a job this past offseason.
Despite a resume that includes 55 games of experience as an NFL offensive tackle – the first Asian American first-round draft pick in history – and 10 seasons as an assistant coach under Super Bowl winners Andy Reid and Doug Pederson, Chung was turned away.
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,” Chung told The Boston Globe.
Chung is Korean, as are both of his parents.
“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. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’ ”
The 51-year-old Chung did not name the team or the interviewer in the report, but he said he was told, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for.”
The NFL has expanded the Rooney Rule to promote minority hiring beyond just head coach vacancies, to include front-office and coordinator positions. The rule is not intended to exclusively help black candidates gain opportunities, as it also applies to females, Latinos, Asians and other minority groups. Teams that develop minority candidates who are hired to premium positions are rewarded with extra draft picks.
But Chung felt overlooked during his interview.
“That’s when I realized what the narrative was,” Chung said. “I was blown away, emotionally paralyzed for a split second. I asked myself, ‘Did I hear that correctly?’ ”
He also asked the interviewer to elaborate, according to the report.
“As soon as the backtracking started, I was like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no, no, you said it. Now that it’s out there, let’s talk about it,’ ” Chung said. “It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that in 2021 something like that is actually a narrative.”
Chung last was an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach for the Eagles in 2019.
“I’m not sitting here bashing the league at all, because there are great mentors and there are great coaches that embrace the difference,” Chung said. “It’s just when the Asians don’t fit the narrative, that’s where my stomach churns a little bit.”