Last Updated on May 16, 2021
The NFL has a $1 billion compensation program for players who sustain brain injuries while competing in the league, however, the NFL also has a secret algorithm it uses to determine the level of dispensation awarded to each injured athlete, and argues in court that it is correct to take into consideration what it maintains is the lower average “cognitive skills” of black players compared to other races.
While former and current NFL players who suffer from dementia or other brain injuries are entitled to compensation from the NFL if their injuries were sustained while competing in the league, the NFL also argues that it is correct to assume that black players have lower “cognitive skills” on average, and this should be taken into consideration when awarding compensation. However, former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, 61, and his wife Amy Lewis, argue in U.S. District Court that awarding less compensation to black people is an example of inequality.
Detractors say the NFL’s algorithm is an example of “race norming,” and according to Newsweek, New York University Medical Ethicist Art Caplain explains, “Norming by race is not the stance that the NFL ought to take. It continues to look as if it’s trying to exclude people rather than trying to do what’s right, which is to help people that, clinically, have obvious and severe disability.”
Meanwhile, “The NFL’s scoring algorithm asserts that black men have lower cognitive skills to begin with and has impeded the ability for former black players to attain awards from the league’s settlement as they are required to score significantly lower than their white counterparts.” The NFL generally began admitting cognitive deficiencies could be caused from professional football in the early 2010s, but now challenges claims of cognitive injury regularly. In one high profile case, “the NFL complained that his doctor had not used ‘full demographic norms’ in the cognitive scoring. That meant factoring in age, education, gender — and race.”
U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody threw a civil lawsuit out, citing the decision made by the athletes – Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry – “saying they were bound by the settlement because they had not opted out years ago” but is now apparently willing to hear such cases due to the civil unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd in 2020. “Brody in April opened the door to changing the practice when she ordered lawyers for the league and the players back to the table to work out an agreement,” The Associated Press reported.
The NFL has become a focal point for left wing activists seeking to use the wide viewership of professional football to bring attention to liberal causes, infamously starting with ex-football player Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the National Anthem in 2015. Last year, the new fans of the NFL said it was racist for the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl, and this year, similar accusations were levied against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Activists were also highly upset that Brady did not wear a mask at the sporting event.