Posted on August 15, 2022

Hundreds of Black Former NFL Players Get Awards After End of ‘Race-Norming’

Will Hobson, Washington Post, August 12, 2022

More than 300 Black former NFL players originally denied payments from the league’s massive concussion settlement now qualify for money or league-funded medical treatment, according to a report filed in federal court Thursday, following the elimination of controversial “race-norming” from the settlement.

The report, produced by the law firm that handles claims for the NFL, summarized the initial impact of last year’s removal of race-norming from the cognitive tests players must take to determine if they qualify for the settlement awards.

The use of race-norming in the NFL concussion settlement first came to light in a lawsuit filed by two former players in 2020, and while the league and the lead lawyer for players in the case initially disputed allegations of racial bias, both sides eventually agreed to modify the case’s testing protocol to make it race-neutral.

Out of 646 Black former players who had their test results rescored using the new system, 61 qualified for new or increased settlement payments, according to the report. Another 246 former players qualified for a pre-dementia diagnosis, the report shows, which will earn them NFL-funded medical treatment. {snip}


Race-norming is a controversial practice that assumes Black people perform worse on many common tests of cognition. {snip}

In regular clinical work, doctors can choose whether to apply race norms to the test results of their patients. In a lawsuit filed against the NFL in 2020, however, former players Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport accused the league of requiring doctors to race-norm all scores from Black players seeking settlement payments, making it harder for Black players to qualify.


The figures released in Thursday’s report are not the final tally of the impact of the removal of race norms. More than 2,400 other players whose claims may have been affected by race-norming can still go through the settlement’s medical evaluation again, to see if they now qualify, and hundreds more were in the process of being evaluated when these changes were implemented.