NFL Commits To Ending 'Race-Norming' Following $800 Million Settlement

The National Football League has announced that it will no longer use "race-norming" during medical assessments. Used for decades, "race-norming" is the assumption that Black players typically have a lower level of cognitive function. Therefore, Black players and retirees would have to show more severe cognitive damage than their white counterparts in order to receive medical or financial support from the league.

In practice, "race-norming" has denied support for a number of former players seeking financial and medical assistance. More than 2,000 former players have filed dementia claims with the league, but less than 600 have support from the league. Given that more than half of NFL retirees are Black, "race-norming" is often pointed to as a reason for the lack of support offered to former players.

Moving forward, the NFL has put together a diverse panel of medical professionals in order to propose a new testing standard. Using this standard, medical and financial support will be supplied to players in the future and retrospectively.

"The replacement norms will be applied prospectively and retrospectively for those players who otherwise would have qualified for an award but for the application of race-based norms," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

These changes did not come without the work of former players, complaints from medical professionals, thousands of petitions and legal action. In 2017, their efforts led to an $800 million settlement for those who sustained brain injuries related to their playing days. The NFLPA hopes that this recent development will lead to more financial and medical support for players moving forward.

"I am sorry for the pain this episode has caused Black former players and their families. Ultimately, this settlement only works if former players believe in it, and my goal is to regain their trust and ensure the NFL is fully held to account," NFLPA attorney Chris Seeger said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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