Documents filed in the US show that NFL officials have agreed to stop using race-based compensation for claims by former players with dementia.

The change comes after revelations that the old testing system had been based upon a formula that presumed that black players were less cognitively competent.

This “race-norming” made it difficult for black players prove that they were injured during their professional careers.

In the draft agreement, thousands of retirementes could be entitled to compensation.

This 46-page document promises that “No Race Norms nor Race Demographic Estimates – whether Black or white – will be used in Settlement Program going forward.”

There will be around 1,435 participants, most of them black, who can have their test scores rescored and in some cases, a new round cognitive testing.

An expert panel will develop a standard for all future testing under the scheme. It will be applicable to any claims not yet ruled upon and appeals.

A majority of players in the league – more than 60% of retired players and 70% of active players are of black race.

The NFL uses race-norming to compare a player’s cognitive scores with the norm for his particular demographic. The methodology assumes that black players have a lower cognitive function level than average white players.

Lawyers explain that this standard requires that average black players demonstrate greater cognitive decline to be eligible for compensation.

The NFL has been defending the practice for years, and stating its standards are based on “widely accepted cognitive tests and scoring methodology”. However, the NFL announced in June that the NFL would be discontinuing the practice.

The NFL’s concussion fund has paid out $856 million (£600m) for five types of brain injuries, including early and advanced dementia, Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease (also known as ALS) since it was established in 2013.

Just 30% of nearly 2,000 eligible men have received dementia awards through the program.

Kevin Henry and Najeh Davidnport were both ex-black players who refused to be paid under the scheme. They launched a civil suit.

In March, a judge dismissed this lawsuit and ordered that the NFL negotiate a settlement.


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