Judge approves changes to NFL concussion settlement that ends use of race norms

By Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) -- A federal judge approved Friday modifications to the NFL's concussion agreement settlement with former players to end the use of race norms and demographic estimates based on race for scoring of diagnostic tests.

Two years ago, two Black retired players sued the NFL for allegedly discriminating against African-American players who submitted claims to the concussion settlement program set up after a 2015 final lawsuit settlement.

The players, Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry, said the NFL race-corrected their neurological exams, which prevented them from being compensated.

US District Judge Anita Brody eventually dismissed the players' lawsuit and ordered a mediator to address concerns about how race correction was being used.

The New York Times reported in October the league and the players had reached an agreement to end the use of race norming, which assumed players being evaluated for neurocognitive impairment started with worse cognitive function if they were Black.

With the modifications to the concussion settlement approved by Brody, Black retired players who were denied payments for dementia can have previous tests rescored or file new claims, an attorney for Davenport and Henry said.

"We are very pleased that the court has approved the settlement," attorney Cyril V. Smith said. "This is a huge win for Black NFL retirees. We believe that thousands of Black former players will benefit."

CNN has reached out to the NFL for comment.

According to the NFL settlement program summary report released earlier this week, 2,078 of 3,322 monetary awards have been paid for early to moderate dementia (level 1.5 and 2 claims).

More than 920 claims in those categories have been denied, for various reasons.

NFL parties have paid out more than $944 million as part of the program.

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