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NFL to halt “race-norming” and review concussion claims of Black players

“Race-norming” made it harder for Black players to qualify for a monetary settlement.

NFL Getty Images

The NFL pledged to end the use of “race-norming,” which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive functions, in the $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims. On Wednesday (June 2), the league also announced that they planned to review past scores for any potential race bias.

According to the Associated Press, “race-norming” made it harder for Black players to qualify for an award and show a deficit. In the 1990s, standards were designed to offer more appropriate treatments to dementia patients, however, they were criticized for the way they were used to determine how much money a player would receive in the NFL concussion case.

Several Black players filed a civil rights lawsuit against the league over the practice. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for a report on the matter to see how almost $800 million was issued by race.

The NFL said that a panel of neuropsychologists proposed a new testing mechanism to the court that will include two female and three Black doctors. “The replacement norms will be applied prospectively and retrospectively for those players who otherwise would have qualified for an award but for the application of race-based norms,” Brian McCarthy, a league spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Over 2,000 NFL retirees have filed dementia claims, however, less than 600 have received awards. More than half of all the retirees are Black. On average, $516,000 was awarded for players who were diagnosed with early-stage dementia. Players who were diagnosed with moderate dementia were awarded about $715,000.

“I am sorry for the pain this episode has caused Black former players and their families. Ultimately, this settlement only works if former players believe in it, and my goal is to regain their trust and ensure the NFL is fully held to account,” lead players lawyer Christopher Seeger said in a statement.

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