NEW YORK, NY — According to reports, thousands of retired Black professional football players – along with countless supporters – are calling for the cessation of a practice utilized by the National Football League (NFL) known as “race-norming,” a process that utilizes an algorithm they claim is biased against African-Americans to determine payouts from a landmark $1 billion settlement stemming from the league’s many concussion-related brain injury lawsuits.
Former NFL players who are suffering from diagnoses of dementia or other brain-related conditions are eligible for a payout from the settlement, but the NFL has used a scoring algorithm on dementia testing that assigns a lower cognitive skill baseline to Black men than other races; this requires that they must score far lower to qualify for the same payout, making it more difficult for Black players to get paid.
The NFL has been using “race-norming” for some time but was only discovered doing so in 2018, according to the AP.
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Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia threw out a civil rights lawsuit in March that claimed that practice discriminated against Black players, but later said that “race-norming” raised very important issues and requested a report on the issue be compiled by a magistrate judge.
The players protesting “race-norming” are demanding an end to its usage and an investigation into previous payouts to Black players and how they may have been unfairly adjusted by the algorithm when compared to players of other races.
According to the AP, most of the 20,000 former NFL retired players are Black, and only a quarter of the 2,000 Black men who sought payouts from the settlement after testing positive for dementia have qualified for any funds. In contrast, the majority of other lawsuit settlements – including those stemming from the September 11, 2001 terror attacks – have utilized the completely equal standards for payouts, regardless of race.