Former NFL player Junior Galette is calling out the NFL for what he says is race-based pay discrimination.
“I've been blackballed since speaking out on pay discrimination in 2018. In 2017 I played every game, all 16 games. I was never on the injury report. I played well enough for the Redskins, or the team formerly known as the Redskins, the Washington football team. They offered me a two-year deal,” Galette told Inside Edition Digital.
“I had already seen my teammate, a white guy from Stanford, Trent Murphy, he was coming off a torn ACL in a season where he didn't even play,” he said. “He didn't play a single down. He was also suspended for four games for PEDs, while missing the whole year.”
Galette says Murphy still was offered a three-year, $22 million contract with a $5 million signing bonus. While Galette says was offered a two-year, $4 million contract, with a $500,000 signing bonus.
Galette says he and other Black players have been offered far less than some of their white counterparts who have had extensive injuries.
“Cam Newton is 31 years old. He was the former MVP of the NFL, meaning he was the best that year. This was three, four years ago. Veteran's minimum, he had to sign for that. Why did he have to sign for that, when Peyton Manning, who was a guy that needed a spine fusion.”
Galette is referring to an injury Manning suffered in 2011. During that same time period, the then 35-year-old quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts earned a $14 million salary.
Earlier this year, Newton signed as quarterback with the New England Patriots for the NFL’s veteran minimum, replacing Tom Brady who’d held that position for 18 years. Under that provision, players with seven or more years of experience are guaranteed a certain amount of money to sign with a team. Newton’s base salary with the Patriots is $1.05 million, but he can make up to more than $7 million with incentives — a fraction of the amount Manning had earned nine years ago.
Galette, who played as an outside linebacker, overcame the depths of poverty. He was born and raised in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. “I had to come here, nine years old, and I didn't know how to speak English. It had been my first time meeting my mother, for the first time at 9 years old," he said. "She had left me when I was 5 months, my parents, to come to America to work hard and earn a decent living to be able to bring me there.”
His work ethic and perseverance led him to becoming one of the New Orleans Saints’ captains, signing a $48 million deal.
In 2015, Galette signed with what is now known as the Washington Football Team.
After his 2017 season with Washington, they separated over the proposed deal. “I said, ‘It's unfair. I'm not playing for this deal. Why do I have to play for this deal when I performed at a high level? No.’ I said that. The Redskins withdrew my two-year deal. I said, ‘Okay, that's fine. There are 31 other teams.’”
At that point, Galette went to Los Angeles and passed a physical for the Rams. He says he was under the impression that Head Coach Sean McVay, along with other team executives, were interested.
“They put me in a group chat. ‘Junior, can't wait for you to get here, man. We're excited.’ I said, "Coach, you're going to be the youngest ever to win the Super Bowl, but you're going to win it much faster with me.’ And I think he said something along the lines like, ‘Oh, all of us are fired up. The coaches already, they guys already know, you already know all the guys. We're just all fired up. Can't wait for you to get here,'” Galette said.
“Sean McVay in a press release stated that, ‘Yes, Junior Galette came to L.A., he passed his physical. But we didn't sign him for reasons we will keep inside.’ I still don't know the reason,” Galette said.
He got a call from the Seattle Seahawks and hopped on a plane hours later, only to pass his physical there and hear the same thing — crickets.
Neither the Los Angeles Rams, nor the Seattle Seahawks, responded to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment.
That’s when Galette says he realized he was blackballed.
“It hurts. It's a mental battle, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, because I've never had any other job but football. So it's been a wake up call, and it's been tough every day," he said. "I have to wake up and just get my work out the way, but I get it, and I keep it pushing. I'm just very grateful that at least we're here to be able to converse about it, so hopefully others, I inspire others to speak out about their situation as well. Because Colin Kaepernick and Junior Galette aren't the only people that have been blackballed from the NFL.”
After the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the global Black Lives Matter protests, Galette decided to reach out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an open letter published on Medium.
“Speaking about, ‘Hey, you came out, Roger Goodell, and said you're open to listen to the Black players about their struggles, to see their perspective,’ and I haven't got a response.”
Goodell had published a video apologizing on behalf of the NFL for not sooner standing in solidarity with players like Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, who took a knee in protest of police brutality four years ago. Kaepernick, who is a free-agent quarterback, has not played in a single NFL game since.
When asked if Galette believed Goodell’s apology was sincere, Galette responded, “I don't think so.”
Galette has filed an arbitration with the NFL. He says all he wants to do is return to the NFL, and would play for the Veteran minimum.
Inside Edition Digital also reached out to the league for comment and has not received a response.
In the meantime, Galette is serving his New Orleans community and is developing his Junior Galette Foundation. “That's going to further continue spreading the universal message of unity makes strength, and that's what I stand for. That's what's on the Haitian flag," he said. "Unity makes strength, and I live by that.
"So I feel like as long as I can continue doing things with my platform, and trying to get people aware of just the unfairness and unfair treatment, and equality across the board, then I'm doing my job because as long as the youth, which is our future and our hope, as long as they're all aware to not make some of the mistakes that I've made, and have an opportunity, then they can be much better than I was.”