Junior Jovais Galette (born March 27, 1988) is a Haitian-American star NFL outside linebacker, activist and philanthropist who has not played a snap in the NFL since speaking out against racial pay discrimination in the league. Galette entered the NFL as an undrafted free-agent with the New Orleans Saints, where he was elected defensive team captain and awarded a $41.5M deal. After two consecutive seasons missed due to back-to-back torn Achilles tendons, Galette returned to an elite performance level playing for the Washington Redskins in 2017.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Galette came from an impoverished background to rise to the pinnacle of the NFL. His parents left the Caribbean for the United States in search of a better life for him and his brothers when Galette was still an infant. After being raised by family members in Haiti, when Galette was 9 years old, his parents raised enough money to bring Galette and his two older brothers to join them in Spring Valley, New York. Galette arrived in America not speaking a word of English and having no experience with any non-Haitian Creole people. Galette has spoken about his experiences learning English upon his arrival and the harassment he received for not speaking the English language. One of Galette’s formative impressions of America was at the beginning of his first year in school in America, in 4th grade, when a girl that didn’t look like him in his class repeatedly called him a racial epithet. Galette did not know what the word meant, but his teacher overheard and intervened; not just reprimanding the classmate, but devoting the entire week’s curriculum to the American Civil Rights Movement. Galette remembers learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks and going home each night to teach his parents about the Civil Rights Movement because as immigrants themselves, they had not learned the history behind America’s systemic oppression and institutionalized racism, even as they endured it in their daily lives.
Galette spent many hours at his local Salvation Army, on Main Street in Spring Valley, New York as a child, honing his athletic skills. He still recalls the day when “The Twins,” Superbowl Champions of the New England Patriots, Devin and Jason McCourty, walked into Galette’s Salvation Army and challenged him to a game of 16. Galette’s competitive fire was stoked by the challenging newcomers, he refused to succumb to their opposing team and the game went to 26 points, a basketball battle of future NFL stars. Although he was the star of the local Salvation Army, Galette has spoken repeatedly about how at the time he could not afford a new basketball.
Galette started at linebacker as a sophomore for Ramapo High School. Following his sophomore season, Galette transferred as a scholarship athlete to Saint Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey, a storied all-boys school with a history of athletic success. Galette contributed to the school’s athletic success on both the football and basketball teams his junior and senior seasons. During his first year at St. Joseph’s as a junior, reunited with then St. Joseph seniors Devin and Jason McCourty, Galette led the football team to victory in its state Non-Public Group III title game, adding to the school’s then-streak of six straight championship titles under head coach Tony Karcich. Galette continued to carry the St. Joseph football team, even without the graduated McCourty twins, in his senior season when Galette had 70 tackles and 12 sacks at linebacker and 10 touchdowns and 41 catches for 492 yards at wide receiver, capping the season with St. Joseph’s seventh straight state Non-Public Group III championship title under head coach Tony Karcich. On February 1, 2006 Galette committed to play football for Temple University, receiving a full scholarship.
Galette played in 11 games with nine starts as a true freshman at Temple, earning Freshman All-American recognition. That freshman season Galette made 52 tackles (32 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup, and 1 block. In his college debut as a true freshman, Galette earned Defensive Player of the Game honors for his 9 tackles (5 solo) and 2.5 tackles for loss. Galette was ranked No. 2 on ESPN’s college football plays of the week for his acrobatic punt block that led to a touchdown against BGSU. Galette lettered his freshman year at Temple.
In his sophomore year at Temple, Galette played in all 12 games with 4 starts at defensive end. Galette finished his sophomore season with 41 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 pass breakup, leading the Temple Owls in tackles for loss and sacks. His 7.5 sacks ranked 4th among all MAC players. Galette was named Defensive Player of the Game for Temple’s win over Miami, in which he led the defense with 6 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble. Galette was named MAC Defensive Player of the Week (October 22, 2007). Galette lettered his sophomore year at Temple.
Galette continued to lead Temple’s defense in his junior year, starting at defensive end. Galette finished his junior season with 46 tackles, a team-best 10 tackles for loss, a team-best 7.5 sacks, three break-ups, a hurry, and a forced fumble. In Temple’s win over Navy on November 1, 2008, Galette led the Owls with a career-high 11 tackles, including 6 solo takedowns and a break-up, holding Navy to its lowest point total in 4 years. Galette was named Defensive Player of the Game against Navy and Central Michigan. Galette earned Temple Athlete of the Week honors for his performance against Ohio. Galette was honored with Second-Team All-MAC in 2008. Galette lettered his junior year at Temple.
Galette transferred to Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for his senior year. Galette was honored as a First Team All-American for his Stillman senior year performance and was invited to participate in the NFL’s rookie combine.
New Orleans Saints
Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Galette made the 53-man roster his rookie season, immediately becoming a fan favorite for his exuberant play in the preseason. In his second year in 2011, Galette became a key role player for New Orleans Saints defense, as the team went 13-3 and beat the Detroit Lions in the playoffs, recording a solo sack in the playoff victory. In Galette’s third season in 2012, he became New Orleans’ third down defensive starter. Following Galette’s growth in the New Orleans defense, he was rewarded with a 3 year, $7.5M contract, with a $2.7M signing bonus. Incentivized by the Saints’ recognition of his growth, Galette exploded into his new role as full time starter, recording 12 sacks, 6th in the NFL that year. In 2013, Galette won the Jim Finks Good Guy Award. Following his breakout season in 2013, the Saints doubled down on their investment in Galette and signed him to a 4 year, $41.5M deal with incentives up to $48M and $23M guaranteed. Within the same week of signing his 2014 deal, Galette was voted by his peers as a Captain of the New Orleans Saints. Galette continued to perform at an elite level in 2014, recording 10 sacks, making his 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons the first back-to-back double-digit sack seasons by a New Orleans Saints player in more than a decade.
Galette signed with the Washington Redskins on July 31, 2015. After completing training camp with Washington, Galette tore his left Achilles a week prior to the season-opener and spent the season on IR. Galette rehabbed the left Achilles and signed a 1 year, up to $4M deal for the upcoming 2016 season. After joining Washington for OTAs and minicamp, Galette tore his right Achilles, and was unable to play for the 2016 season. Galette rehabbed again, and signed another deal with Washington, agreeing to play in 2017 for veterans minimum. Galette outperformed the minimum deal, recording 3 sacks and ranking 3rd in the NFL in quarterback pressure rate, as a sub-rusher appearing in all 16 games. Galette did not appear on Washington’s injury list at all during the 2017 season. Following the 2017 season, Washington withdrew its offer to Galette after Galette spoke out on racial pay discrimination in the NFL. Galette has not played a snap in the NFL since drawing attention to the racial discrimination in NFL player play.
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST PAY DISCRIMINATION IN THE NFL
Spoke Out in 2017
After receiving an offer with 500% less guaranteed money than that received by his white teammate who did not play in 2017, Galette called out racial pay discrimination in the NFL. Although ranked by PFF as a Top Ten Free Agent Signing in 2017, and multiple media outlets reporting Galette was signed by the Los Angeles Rams, Galette has not played in the NFL since the 2017 season, with Rams Head Coach Sean McVay publicly saying “It just didn’t work out for reasons that we will keep inside.”
Although unsigned for the 2018 -2019 seasons, Galette continued working out and stayed in contact with NFL coaches, constantly seeking an opportunity to get back on a team.
Open Letter in 2020
On June 8, 2020, Galette published an Open Letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL seeking equitable treatment of Black players and an end to policies that blackball players who speak out against racism in the league.
Galette’s letter applauds the NFL’s recent statement acknowledging systemic racism and the inequitable treatment of Black people in America. But Galette asks that the NFL go beyond mere words of support for the Black Lives Matter movement; instituting policies that bring about real change.
Galette noted in his Open Letter that Black men in America are seven times more likely to have encounters with law enforcement than their white counterparts; a startling statistic experts attribute in part to institutionalized racism. Black NFL players are not immune from such adverse interaction with police officers, but under current NFL policies a player accused of a crime can be suspended from playing even before having the opportunity to appear in court and exercise his constitutional right to prove his innocence.
Galette has two sons, Jovais Galette and Junior Galette, and two older brothers, Furley Galette and Dudley Galette.
Galette is a frequently-requested motivational speaker, international philanthropist, and serial entrepreneur. He is passionate about finding and championing emerging artists. Galette recognizes, fosters, and develops natural musical talent and provides a springboard to greater audiences for his artists.
Attempted Extortion of Galette in 2015
Unfounded allegations of off-field misconduct had a severe impact on Galette’s career: in 2015, while playing for the New Orleans Saints, a woman accused him of assault. When prosecutors investigated, they concluded the allegations lacked credibility and dropped all charges. The woman pursued a civil suit but Galette refused to settle. Putting his reputation on the line, Galette took the matter to trial―and won. Unfortunately, even though a jury of his peers fully exonerated him from any wrongdoing, many didn’t see past the allegation and prior suspension by the NFL. By then, it was too late to unring the bell, a fate all too common for Black men in America.
Unlawful Arrest in 2017
While attending the Biloxi Black Beach Weekend in Mississippi in March 2017, Galette found himself in the vicinity of revelers who started fist-fighting. Keenly aware the damage of off-field misconduct, he ran to get away. A police officer chased and tased Galette, pinned him to the ground, handcuffed him, and took him into custody, booking him with “failure to comply.” Reminiscent of the 2015 incident, charges against Galette were promptly dropped. But as news of the Biloxi incident, gained traction, Galette’s reputation was again tarnished.