NFL concussion regulations to rule out race as a factor

Less than 700 of over 2,000 dementia claims were approved in the regulations. The settlement also pays former players with Parkinson’s,...


Less than 700 of over 2,000 dementia claims were approved in the regulations. The settlement also pays former players with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, who can only be diagnosed posthumously. At least half of all former NFL players are black, and about 70 percent of players in the league right now are black.

Hundreds of former players who have had their claims denied will also be able to have their test results reassessed. Over 7,000 former players have taken free neuropsychological and neurological examinations as a first step in filing their complaints, or as a benchmark if their cognitive and neurological abilities deteriorate in the future. Some of them may have chosen not to file complaints based on the results, or may not know how these reviews were scored.

According to the document filed Wednesday, the new method will be used to reassess claims and diagnoses and could potentially allow players to receive a payment for the first time, or a larger payment than initially estimated.

The new retrospective scoring will apply to cases where no impairment has been determined, but black standards were applied during the player’s neuropsychological test; all dementia claims that have been refused and to which black race standards have been applied; or claims that were denied or reduced because the doctor did not enforce black race standards.

Cyril Smith, an attorney for Henry and Davenport, claimed that white players’ dementia claims were approved at a rate two to three times that of black players. Smith was unable to substantiate his claim because, he said, the NFL and the settlement administrator refused to provide data.

Orran Brown, the administrator, told the New York Times that its database does not track claims by race and that the claim forms do not include a place to list a player’s race.

The standards were not originally designed to be used to assess legal damages.

Senator Cory Booker, Senator Ron Wyden and other members of Congress data requested from the NFL to determine whether black gamers were discriminated against. A report on ABC News led more than a dozen wives of retired black NFL players to send Judge Brody a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures calling for an end to the use of race-based standards.

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