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Lawsuit Accuses NFL of Discriminating Against Black Players During Concussion Compensation

By

Andrew Cohen

Retired NFL players Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry are suing the NFL for racial discrimination. The lawsuit claims the NFL used different standards regarding financial compensation given to former Black players versus white players who’ve sustained brain injuries in their careers.

“Black former players are automatically assumed (through a statistical manipulation called “race-norming”) to have started with worse cognitive functioning than White former players,” reads the lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania. 

“As a result, if a Black former player and a White former player receive the exact same raw scores on a battery of tests designed to measure their current cognitive functioning, the Black player is presumed to have suffered less impairment, and he is therefore less likely to qualify for compensation.”

Davenport played for three teams from 2003 to 2008, while Henry had an eight-year career from 1993-2000 as a defensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The lawsuit aims to become a class-action case representing thousands of former Black players. In 2013, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement to begin compensating former players for cognitive issues related to concussions suffered during their playing careers.

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