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The Battle of Trying to Reveal Discrimination in NFL Concussion Claims

In August, defense end, Kevin Henry, and running back, Najeh Davenport, filed a lawsuit against the NFL that has raised concerns about discrimination against Black players in concussion claims. They stated that there was clear discrimination against these players during this process. 

Davenport, who is a former Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Indianapolis Colts player, stated that his compensation award had been appealed by the NFL and that racial norms came into the equation. During his career he suffered through more than 10 concussions. Henry, who is also a former Steelers player, said that his claim was denied despite suffering headaches, depression, and memory loss. 

When filing a claim for compensation, players are evaluated to see where they compare to the baseline score, or normal level of cognitive functioning. Players could be eligible for compensation if they fall enough below this normal score. This baseline could be unfortunately lower for Black players. This means that Black players could have a harder time qualifying for compensation and awards. 

This issue is raising the question of whether race is taken into consideration during these evaluations. League spokesman, Brian McCarthy released a statement that included how, “The settlement program… was the result of arm’s-length, comprehensive negotiations between the NFL and Class Counsel, was approved by the federal courts after a searching review of its fairness, and always contemplated the use of recognized statistical techniques to account for demographic differences such as age, education and race.” 


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