PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – Thousands of retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the controversial use of “race-norming” to determine which players are eligible for payouts in the NFL’s $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims, a system experts say is discriminatory.
Former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, 60, and his wife, Amy Lewis, on Friday delivered 50,000 petitions demanding equal treatment for Black players to Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia, who is overseeing the massive settlement.
Former players who suffer dementia or other diagnoses can be eligible for a payout.
Under the settlement, however, the NFL has insisted on using a scoring algorithm on the dementia testing that assumes Black men start with lower cognitive skills. They must therefore score much lower than whites to show enough mental decline to win an award. The practice, which went unnoticed until 2018, has made it harder for Black former players to get awards.
“My reaction was, ‘Well, here we go again,’” said Jenkins, a former running back. “It’s the same old nonsense for Black folks, to have to deal with some insidious, convoluted deals that are being made.” Jenkins is now an insurance executive and is not experiencing any cognitive problems but has plenty of NFL friends who are less fortunate.
‘A very important issue’
In March, Brody threw out a civil rights lawsuit that claimed…