An American judge yesterday criticized the NFL practice of race norming that the league practiced in dealing with Black players who suffered from concussions. Race norming was used by the NFL to exclude some Black players from receiving concussion benefits by assuming that Blacks have a lower level of cognitive ability than whites, and therefore could be excluded from getting concussion-related benefits unless their cognitive ability was below the lower level than the whites players allegedly had. You can't get any more racist than that. Since 58.9% of NFL players are Black this resulted in enormous savings for the league. This is not a practice carried over from the 1920s but introduced for the concussion settlement. What century do the NFL owners live in?
This was revealed only because two Black players sued the NFL over this. Furthermore, the judge only directed the league, which created the practice to negotiate a settlement with the players.
When this hit the media, the NFL said the practice would be discontinued. However, it did not even bother to apologize for this extreme act of racism.
The history of racism in the NFL has been long and tragic, from the lily white days shortly after its founding (there were a couple of Black players in the 1920s and then none till after WWII), the refusal to allow Black QBs play in the league well into the 1980s and only recently has that increased in a major way, to the blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick over simply taking a knee during the national anthem.
Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who oversees the NFL’s settlement with thousands of former NFL players regarding the league’s cavalier handling of head trauma issues for decades, has ordered the league and class counsel representing those former players to the negotiating table to address the race-norming issue, which former players say weighs settlement awards against former Black players.
On Monday, Judge Brody issued a pair of orders — one dismissing the lawsuits brought against the league by former players Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport as “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement.” But Judge Brody also issued an order expressing concern about the practice of race-norming, which sets a lower cognitive bar for Black players, thus preventing them from gaining equal consideration when cognitive impairment due to head trauma is determined.
“We are glad that the Court has expressed concern about the NFL Concussion Settlement program’s ‘race-norming,’ since for the last four years it has been used to discriminate against Black former players and must be changed immediately,” said Cy Smith, an attorney at Zuckerman Spaeder, who represents Henry and Davenport. “However, we are deeply concerned that the Court’s proposed solution is to order the very parties who created this discriminatory system to negotiate a fix. The class of Black former players whom we represent must have a seat at the table and a transparent process, so that we are not back in the same place four years from now dealing with another fatally flawed settlement.”
At the request of an attorney who represents several former NFL players, a neuropsychologist who has evaluated former NFL players under the concussion settlement program recently re-scored the results of cognitive tests from a group of 94 Black former players.
Nine tests were deemed “incomplete” because of “missing raw scores,” leaving a sample of 85 scores recorded by approximately 40 different clinicians between 2016 and 2020.
When the clinician interpreted the test scores as if those former players had been white, 34 of them met the criteria to receive payouts through the program. When the clinician applied the recommended demographic correction to those same scores, however, only 10 of those same players qualified.