Eugene Chung has a decade of coaching experience, a Super Bowl ring and years of experience as an NFL offensive lineman, but he still reportedly found himself dumbfounded by an interview with an NFL team this offseason.
The former Philadelphia Eagles assistant offensive line coach told the Boston Globe's Nicole Yang that a job interview with the unnamed team took a bizarre turn when the interviewer allegedly interrupted Chung's pitch with a point of contention about his race.
From the Globe:
“It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority,’” Chung recalled.
“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,’” he said. “So I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not a minority?’”
The interviewer responded, “You are not the right minority we’re looking for.”
After a brief moment of shock, Chung, who is Korean American, said he prodded the interviewer about the remark:
“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,’” he said. “It was absolutely mind-blowing to me that in 2021, something like that is actually a narrative.”
Chung was selected 13th overall by the New England Patriots in the 1992 NFL draft, the first Asian American to be drafted in the first round per the Globe. He would go on to play with five NFL organizations over the course of his career, his last being a practice squad stint with the Philadelphia Eagles under Andy Reid.
Chung has spent his entire coaching career under the Reid's impressive coaching tree, first serving as assistant offensive line coach with the Eagles before taking the same position with the Kansas City Chiefs when Reid moved west. Chung landed back with the Eagles in 2016 under former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, winning a championship ring at Super Bowl LII.
Chung hasn't worked in the NFL since his contract wasn't renewed in 2019.
That fateful interview wasn't the first time Chung said he encountered a strange reaction to his descent as a coach, as he recalled multiple agents asking how he got his last name without realizing he was Korean. And, of course, there have been run-ins with fans:
One time when he was on the field before a game, he remembers hearing a fan shout, “Hey Mr. Miyagi, what do you coach? Karate?” Chung stopped in his tracks, turned around, walked over to him, and confronted him.
“He just cowered away, like most of them do,” Chung recalled.
With anti-Asian racism a major issue in a post-COVID-19 world, it's understandable that Chung is now speaking out about his treatment.
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