NFL: Judge approves changes ending race bias in concussion settlements

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - A US District judge approved changes to the NFL's 2015 concussion settlement scheme that give retired Black players the right to have their claims reassessed.

Roger Goodell has been commissioner of the NFL since 2006, overseeing the CTE settlement between the league and former players that starter paying out in 2013.
Roger Goodell has been commissioner of the NFL since 2006, overseeing the CTE settlement between the league and former players that starter paying out in 2013.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Anita B. Brody's ruling means that retired Black players can be retested or have their settlement claims rescored for payments in relation to dementia claims brought on by concussions.

This is the endpoint of a 2020 race discrimination lawsuit brought on by two former NFL players against the league's use of using a scoring algorithm in their dementia testing process that assumed Black men start with lower cognitive skills.

The practice called "race-norming" essentially meant that Black players had to show more mental decline than their white counterparts to qualify for a payout. It was originally developed by doctors in the 90s and was meant to consider a patient's socioeconomic background and not payout eligibility for a retired football player.

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Judge Brody had overseen the 2020 discrimination case and dismissed the lawsuit, but had ordered both parties involved to resolve the issue.

Cyril V. Smith, a lawyer who represents the two former players who launched the lawsuit, told the Associated Press on Friday that "thousands of Black players stand to benefit from these changes to the settlement."

After Friday's decision, the original payout plan for those diagnosed with dementia could now add at least $100 million more in potential payouts.

To date, over 2,000 former players are attached to dementia claims. About two-thirds of those claims involve Black players.

Since settlement payments became official in 2013, the league has paid out more than $800 million, which is actually half of their recorded dementia claims so far.

Cover photo: imago/Icon SMI

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