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A Korean NFL coach says he was told he 'was not the right minority' during an interview for a coaching job

Jackson Thompson   

A Korean NFL coach says he was told he 'was not the right minority' during an interview for a coaching job
  • NFL coach Eugene Chung was told he was 'not the right minority' during a job interview.
  • Chung played in the NFL from 1992-98 and coached in the league from 2010-19.
  • Chung became the third Asian to play in the NFL when was drafted in the first round.

A Korean-American football coach said that an NFL executive called him 'not the right minority' during an interview for a coaching job this offseason.

Former Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung coached in the NFL from 2010-19 but hasn't found a new job since and believes his race is one reason why, he said during a webinar hosted by The Boston Globe.

"It was said to me, 'Well, you're really not a minority,'" Chung said. "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.'

"I asked about it, and 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. It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that, in 2021, something like that is actually a narrative."

Chung became just the third Asian person to play in the NFL when he was selected in the first round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots as an offensive tackle out of Virginia Tech and was even named to the NFL's All-Rookie Team that year. Chung played five seasons, making 30 total starts.

Chung began his coaching career with the Eagles in 2010 as an assistant offensive line coach under Andy Reid, then followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013. Chung returned to the Eagles in 2016 under Doug Pederson, with whom he worked under Reid's leadership, and helped coach Philadelphia to its Super Bowl LII victory.

Despite coaching nine seasons in the NFL, Chung never advanced past the rank of assistant offensive line coach.

"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."

The NFL approved a plan to improve minority hiring last November. The resolution rewards teams two third-round draft picks if a minority coach on its staff is hired to a higher position by another team.

But Chung now believes that the initiatives to increase minority coaching hires in the NFL do not apply to him.

"For me, in this profession, I don't think I'm looked at as a minority," Chung said. "Whether that's good or bad, I don't know."

The NFL announced that it would review the allegations and called the comment that Chung said he received "inappropriate and contrary to league values and workplace policies," according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.

The Fritz Pollard Alliance, a foundation that aims to expand diversity in the NFL, issued a statement regarding Chung's claim through executive director Rod Graves.

"Alleged comments made to Eugene Chung by an NFL team during a recent interview should be investigated by the NFL," Graves said. "If the comments regarding his status as a Korean American are true, it is further evidence that despite good faith changes to diversity-related policies, the NFL's actual hiring practices are still riddled with discrimination."


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