The lawsuit attacking the concussion settlement was dismissed, but it did result in a victory anyway.
On Wednesday, the National Football League pledged to halt the use of “race-norming” — which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive functioning — in the $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims and to review past scores for any potential race bias. The practice had made it harder for Black players to show a deficit and qualify for an award, according to ESPN.
“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 said in a statement on Wednesday, via the Associated Press.
“Words are cheap. Let’s see what they do,” said former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, whose wife, Amy Lewis, led the petition drive on behalf of NFL friends struggling with cognitive problems.
According to the NFL, a panel of neuropsychologists formed recently to propose a new testing regime to the court includes 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,” the NFL said in a statement issued Wednesday by spokesman Brian McCarthy.
The NFL noted that the norms were developed in medicine “to stop bias in testing, not perpetrate it.”
More than 2,000 former NFL players have lodged dementia claims, but fewer than 600 have received compensation. Lawyers say more than half of NFL retirees are black.
The allegations of racial discrimination come amid a social justice campaign from football’s leaders.
Last year, the league committed $250m over a decade to social justice initiatives, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making forceful statements for the first time on police violence towards black Americans.