NFL assistant coach Eugene Chung has claimed he was told he was ‘not the right minority’ during a job interview this past offseason.
Chung was most recently an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach for the Eagles in 2019.
Yet, despite his stellar resume which includes 55 games as an NFL offensive tackle – he was the first Asian American first-round draft pick in history, and a further 10 seasons as an assistant coach, Chung was turned down for a coaching position this offseason.
Former NFL offensive tackle Eugene Chung said he was told by a team he wasn’t the ‘right minority’ during an interview for a coaching position this offseason
‘It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,’ Chung, 51, who is Korean, told The Boston Globe.
‘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?”‘
‘You are not the right minority we’re looking for,’ he was told.
Fortunately for the team involved, Chung has spared them the humiliation and decided not to name them during the 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?’ ‘
Offensive lineman Eugene Chung of the New England Patriots (left) is pictured in 1992
Despite his stellar resume which includes 55 games as an NFL offensive tackle, he did not get the coaching job. He is pictured with the New England Patriots, left, (69) in 1993
Upon asking the interviewer to explain further, they became reticent.
‘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.
‘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.
‘I was always proud of my heritage, being Asian and being Korean. Always proud. Never ashamed. Not one day of my life.’
‘You’re really not a minority,’ Chung was told.’I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Last time I checked, when I looked in the mirror and brushed my teeth, I was a minority.’
In the NFL, the Rooney Rule is supposed to require every team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one or more diverse candidates.
In 2009, the rule was expanded to include general manager jobs and equivalent front office positions.
Offensive lineman Eugene Chung also played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995. He was the first player of Asian descent to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft
The rule is also not just to help black candidates secure positions but also women, Latinos and Asians among other minorities.
The teams who end up hiring minority candidates are then rewarded with extra draft picks.
‘It’s continually keeping a focus on this, adapting, looking to see what areas we can improve on, and that constant evolution of improvement, to try to make sure we’re doing everything appropriate to give minorities an opportunity to advance in the head coaching ranks or the coaching ranks in general,’ commissioner Roger Goodell said at the time.
However, despite the leagues push for diversity, if Chung’s experience is anything to go by, it appears minority candidates are still being passed over.
Chung hopes that simply by speaking out is a step in the right direction.