More Black Former N.F.L. Players Eligible for Concussion Payouts

Tests for dementia were rescored under the N.F.L.’s concussion settlement to avoid race-based criteria.


Dozens of Black retired N.F.L. players will now be eligible for payouts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the league’s billion-dollar concussion settlement, reversing previous decisions made because of cognitive tests that used race-based measures to determine whether the players had dementia.

The decision, included in a status report filed by the settlement administrator that was entered into the court docket Thursday, came two years after two former players sued the league to end the use of race as a criterion in evaluating the players’ claims, a process known as “race-norming.”

The settlement administrator found that 646 players who had been tested for dementia but did not qualify for cash payouts could have their tests automatically rescored without using race as a criterion.

Of those, 61 were found to have moderate or severe dementia and may receive payouts worth $500,000 or more. The payouts vary based on a player’s age and the number of years he was in the league.

Another 246 former players were found to have mild dementia and will receive additional testing to monitor their conditions. Thousands of other players have qualified for examinations that will not use race as a factor; these players could qualify for payouts in the coming months and years.

The results were the latest chapter in the landmark concussion settlement that has resulted in about $1 billion in claims being paid to players with a range of cognitive and neurological diseases including dementia. For years, former players and their families have accused the league of making it difficult, if not impossible, to receive payouts from the settlement, and they have claimed that the plaintiffs attorney who represents every player in the class-action settlement was not doing enough to fight for them.

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