More Black Former NFL Players Eligible for Concussion Payouts

Dozens of black retired NFL players are now eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of payouts from the league’s multibillion-dollar concussion bill, reversing previous decisions made based on cognitive testing that used racial measures to determine whether the players had dementia.

The decision, contained in a status report filed by the settlement manager that was included in the court filing on Thursday, came two years after two former players sued the league over the use of race as a criterion in evaluating player claims end, a process known as “race norming”.

The settlement manager found that 646 players who had been tested for dementia but did not qualify for cash payments were able to have their tests automatically re-evaluated without using race as a criterion.

Of those, 61 were found to have moderate or severe dementia and may receive payouts of $500,000 or more. Payouts vary based on a player’s age and the number of years they have been in the league.

Another 246 former players have been diagnosed with mild dementia and will undergo additional tests to monitor their condition. Thousands of other players have qualified for trials that don’t use race as a factor; These players could qualify for payouts in the coming months and years.

The results were the latest chapter in the landmark concussion settlement that resulted in about $1 billion in claims being paid to gamers with a range of cognitive and neurological disorders, including dementia. For years, former players and their families have accused the league of making it difficult, if not impossible, to receive settlement payouts, and they have claimed that the plaintiffs’ attorney representing each player in the class action lawsuit is not doing enough did to fight her.

In August 2020, two retired black players, Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, challenged the seven-year-old settlement, accusing the league of “explicitly and intentionally” discriminating against black players by using separate racial-based benchmarks to determine their suitability for dementia – based payouts that can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The league denied that it was attempting to exclude black players, but agreed to remove race as a criterion. Christopher Seeger, the attorney representing the entire class of gamers, apologized for allowing race to be used in evaluating dementia claims.

In October, the league and players’ attorneys agreed to stop using a player’s race when attempting to determine their level of cognitive decline.

David Langfitt, who has represented hundreds of former NFL players in the settlement, said former players and their families owe Henry, Davenport and their attorneys “a debt of gratitude for coming forward and correcting something that was clearly wrong.”

“So far, the best way to think of the results is as a first step, a down payment for an issue that’s now fixed,” added Langfitt. “Going forward, we expect an ongoing positive impact on the claims process as African American players are treated the same as the white players they played with.”

In a statement Friday, Seeger said he is focused on the rescoring process “to provide meaningful benefits to more retired players and their families, improve their access to information, and ensure greater equity and transparency going forward.”

The NFL did not respond to a request for comment.