Previously, "race norming" in dementia testing made it harder for Black former players to prove they had the level of cognitive decline that qualifies retirees for awards that average upwards of $500,000.
However, changes to the billion-dollar settlement made last year aimed at making the tests race-blind.
A report released on Friday (August 12) revealed that 650 men had their dementia tests automatically rescored after racial bias was eliminated from the scoring formula.
51 retirees are now eligible for moderate to advanced dementia payouts, which vary based on tenure and condition, according to the report. Nearly 250 men whose tests were rescored show signs of early dementia and will qualify to receive up to $35,000 in medical care.
These hundreds of former players initially failed the qualifications for awards because of race-norming in testing.
The newly rescored tests will add millions of dollars to the NFL’s total payouts.
Though thousands more Black retirees can seek new testing, advocates warn that many former players may not be able to take advantage of the new scoring formula, especially if they live alone and experience severe memory issues.
“Men who are homeless, men who originally signed up but their cognitive function changed, men who are divorced or isolated — we are going to go looking for them,” said Amy Lewis, the wife of retired Washington player Ken Jenkins, who urged the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to address the race-norming issue.
Chris Seeger, the lead lawyer for thousands of retired players who sought dementia payouts from the NFL, has apologized for initially failing to see the impact of racial bias on testing.
Seeger pledged in a recent interview to “make sure the NFL pays every nickel they should.”