There is a $1 billion settlement fund that the National Football League uses to distribute funds to former players who suffer from dementia and other severe brain injuries due to the hits they’ve taken during their time in the league. However, in order to receive these funds, there is a “scoring system” or algorithm that is supposed to determine how much money a player will be allotted.
That algorithm is at the center of a major controversy as thousands f retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the controversial use of “race-norming” to determine which players are eligible for payouts in the NFL’s $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims.
Via the AP:
Former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, 60, and his wife Amy Lewis on Friday delivered 50,000 petitions demanding equal treatment for Black players to Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia, who is overseeing the massive settlement. Former players who suffer dementia or other diagnoses can be eligible for a payout.
Under the settlement, however, the NFL has insisted on using a scoring algorithm on the dementia testing that assumes Black men start with lower cognitive skills. They must therefore score much lower than whites to show enough mental decline to win an award. The practice, which went unnoticed until 2018, has made it harder for Black former players to get awards.
“My reaction was, ‘Well, here we go again,’” said Jenkins, a former running back. “It’s the same old nonsense for Black folks, to have to deal with some insidious, convoluted deals that are being made.” Jenkins is now an insurance executive and is not experiencing any cognitive problems, but has plenty of NFL friends who are less fortunate.”
Class counsel Chris Seeger said through a spokesperson he wants to end the practice of race-norming and investigate any awards that were affected by adjustments in the past.
“We are investigating whether any claims have been impacted by a physician’s decision to apply such an adjustment. If we discover an adjustment has been inappropriately applied, I will fight for the rights of Black players to have those claims rescored,” Seeger said.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy has declined to comment, according to the report.
The majority of the league’s 20,000 retirees are Black, yet only a quarter of the more than 2,000 men have qualified under the testing program. Lawyers are now asking for details on how the $800 million in settlement payouts so far have broken along racial lines.
“Because every Black retired NFL player has to perform lower on the test to qualify for an award than every white player. And that’s essentially systematic racism in determining these payouts,” said Katherine Possin, a neurology professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.