The NFL has agreed to end race-based testing for claims filed by former players with dementia filed with a US court.
It follows revelations that the previous testing system was based on a formula that assumed that black players had a lower level of cognitive function.
This “race regulation” has made it more difficult for black players to prove that they have suffered from career-related injuries.
The draft agreement means that thousands of retirees are eligible for compensation.
The 46-page document guarantees that: “No racial norms or racial demographic estimates, whether black or white, will be used in the settlement program in the future.”
Around 1,435 players, many of whom are black, will now have the option to re-score or, in some cases, seek out a new round of cognitive testing.
A group of experts will also develop a new standard that will apply to all future tests under the regime, any claims not yet made and all complaints currently on appeal.
The vast majority of the league’s players – over 60% of the living retirees and 70% of the active players – are black.
Under racial regulation, the NFL compared a player’s cognitive test scores to the supposed norm for his demographic group. According to the methodology, black players are assumed to have a lower level of cognitive function than the average white player.
But lawyers say the standard means that to qualify for compensation, the average black player must demonstrate a greater level of cognitive decline than a white counterpart.
While the NFL has defended the practice in the past, stating that its standards “were based on widely accepted and established cognitive testing and scoring methodologies,” in June it announced it intended to discontinue the practice.
The NFL Concussion Fund paid $ 856 million (£ 600 million) for five types of brain injuries, including early and advanced dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as ALS ) since it was established in 2013.
However, of the approximately 2,000 men who applied for dementia awards under the program, only 30% were approved.
Two former black players, Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, who were refused payments under the scheme, have filed a civil lawsuit.
But a judge dismissed the lawsuit in March and ordered the NFL to negotiate a settlement.
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