The NFL will stop using “race-norming,” a practice that assumed black players started out with lower cognitive function than whites and other non-blacks following a $1 billion brain injury settlement.
The practice made it more difficult for retired black players of the league to show a cognitive deficit and therefore qualify for an award, The Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football)
“Words are cheap,” said former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, whose wife Amy Lewis led the petition drive on behalf of NFL friends struggling with cognitive problems. “Let’s see what they do.” (RELATED: NFL Players Reveal They Battle Depression And Anxiety, Offer Tips To Those Struggling)
The NFL says it will halt the use of “race-norming” — which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive functioning — in a $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims. The practice had made it harder for Black players to qualify.https://t.co/OQpzSD88xM
— The Associated Press (@AP) June 2, 2021
The norm standards were originally created in the 1990s in hopes of providing more appropriate treatment to dementia patients, but critics said there were used to determine payouts in the NFL concussion case, The AP noted.
Attorney Christopher Seeger initially said that he hadn’t seen any evidence of racial bias in the administration of the settlement fund but amended those comments on Wednesday, according to The AP.
“I am sorry for the pain this episode has caused Black former players and their families,” Seeger’s statement read. “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.”
NFL reportedly said the norms were developed in medicine “to stop bias in testing, not perpetrate it.” Both the league and Seeger noted that the practice wasn’t mandatory, but left to the discretion of doctors involved in the settlement process.
The league also promised to review past scores for any race bias and formed a new testing regime.
“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,” the NFL shared in a statement following the decision, according to The AP.
The report noted that to date, more than 2,000 NFL retirees have filed dementia claims, but fewer than 600 have received those awards. Lawyers involved in the litigation reportedly said more than half of all NFL retirees are black.