NFL will end 'race-norming' of brain tests for concussion claims

NFL will end 'race-norming' of brain tests for concussion claims
© Getty Images

The National Football League has agreed to stop using “race-norming” in brain testing for dementia, a practice that critics allege makes it harder for Black athletes to secure compensation for concussion claims.

Initially used in the 1990s, the binary testing assumes that Black people do not start with the same cognitive functioning levels as other races, The Associated Press reported

However, critics allege that the race-based testing only makes it harder for Black athletes to get fairly compensated for concussions under a class-action settlement approved in 2015, which has already paid out some $800 million. 


In a tentative agreement filed on Wednesday, the league agreed to end the practice.

“No Race Norms or Race Demographic Estimates — whether Black or White — shall be used in the Settlement Program going forward,” the proposed deal said, according to The New York Times, which first reported on it. 

The agreement, which has not yet been officially approved by a judge, would also mean that concussion claims cannot be appealed on the basis of race.

"We look forward to the Court’s prompt approval of the agreement, which provides for a race-neutral evaluation process that will ensure diagnostic accuracy and fairness in the Concussion Settlement," Brad Karp, counsel to the NFL, said in a statement.

"We believe that this is a huge win for Black retired players and look forward to discussing it more fully once permitted,” said Cyril Smith, who is representing the two Black former NFL players who sued the league.