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Black NFL Retirees Now Qualify for CTE Payouts After Retests

  • Nearly 650 Black NFL retirees have had their dementia tests automatically rescored.
  • The change in testing qualified 51 retirees for moderate-to-advanced dementia awards.
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly 650 Black NFL retirees have had their dementia tests automatically rescored, after the NFL announced last year it would no longer assume that Black players have less cognitive abilities when assessing brain claims.

Previously, hundreds of Black retirees were denied payouts in a $1 billion concussion settlement with the league. The dementia tests previously used “race norming,” making it harder for Black players to prove they had a cognitive decline. 

So far, the change in testing qualified 61 Black NFL retirees for moderate-to-advanced dementia award — averaging $600,000 — with nearly 250 showing early signs of dementia, according to the Associated Press. The latter will receive up to $35,000 in medical testing and treatment.

  • The former players had already met other criteria, including hours of validity testing.
  • Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and deaths before April 2015 involving chronic traumatic encephalopathy also qualify for awards.

Since the 2016 settlement, the NFL has approved more than $1 billion in claims, totaling about $916 million after appeals and audits. The Associated Press states the results will add millions to the league’s total payouts.

Past, Present, and Future

The tests’ discrimination went relatively unnoticed until a 2020 lawsuit was brought by former Pittsburgh Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport.

The process has slowed — nearly four in 10 claims are now audited by the claims administrator BrownGreer, despite the involvement of program doctors and expert opinions, according to the Associated Press.

Other Black retirees can continue to seek new testing.