Thousands of retired black professional soccer players, their families, and supporters are controversial in deciding which players will be eligible for payment in the NFL’s $ 1 billion brain injury claim settlement. Discriminatory, system experts say, demanding that the use of “race noming” be stopped.
Former Washington and his wife Amy Lewis, carrying Ken Jenkins, 60, on Friday told Philadelphia’s senior U.S. District Court judge Anita B. Brody, who oversees a major settlement, as a black player. He submitted 50,000 petitions demanding equal treatment. Former players with dementia or other diagnoses may be eligible for payment.
However, under the settlement, the NFL argued that black men would use scoring algorithms in dementia tests that assume they start with lower cognitive skills. Therefore, to show enough mental decline to win the award, the score must be much lower than that of whites. This practice, which was overlooked until 2018, makes it difficult for former black players to win awards.
“My reaction was,’Well, I’ll go here again,'” said former running back Jenkins. “For blacks, it’s the same old nonsense that you have to deal with the insidious and complex transactions that are taking place.” Jenkins is now an insurer executive and has no cognitive problems, but good luck. I have a lot of NFL friends who aren’t.
In March, Brody filed a civil rights lawsuit alleging that the practice was discriminatory. However, she later stated in a filing that the practice raised “a very important issue” and asked the judge to compile a report on the issue. She told The Associated Press that she didn’t know when it would be completed.
The majority of the league’s 20,000 retirees are black. And only one-quarter of the more than 2,000 men who sought the award for early to moderate dementia qualified under the test program. Black player lawyers have asked for details on how previous $ 800 million settlement payments have been broken along racial boundaries, but have not yet received them.
Racial normalization may be used in medicine as a rough substitute for socio-economic factors that can affect someone’s health. Neurology experts said the methods used in the NFL reconciliation were too simple and restrictive, and had the effect of systematically discriminating against black players.
“Because all black retired NFL players have to perform lower on the test to qualify for the award than all white players, and that’s essentially in deciding on these payments. It’s systematic racism, “said Catherine Possin, a professor of neurology at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center.
All plaintiffs were treated the same in other major settlements, including those related to the September 11 terrorist attack and the Boston Marathon bombings.
Ken Feinberg, a lawyer who has overseen many of the largest settlement funds, said, “We get the best rewards for white men, and when everyone receives the same highest dollars, it’s pretty quick. I have concluded. ” Feinberg said. “We will cure this compensatory discrimination by pulling up all ships with rising tides.”
The first proceeding was filed in 2011, accusing the NFL of concealing its knowledge of the link between concussion and brain injury. The trickle quickly flooded and the NFL agreed to pay $ 765 million in 2013 for people aged 65 and over, rather than risking trials for certain diagnoses, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Year for. However, when the claims flooded, Brody ordered the cap to be removed, fearing the fund would run out prematurely.
According to the claims website, the NFL, which supports the bill, has begun to challenge hundreds of claims.
In suing what Najeh Davenport submitted, the NFL complained that his doctor did not use “complete demographic criteria” for cognitive scoring. That meant taking into account age, education, gender, and race.
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about. He was done using standard norms like everyone else. Using different racial standards is certainly discriminatory and illegal. According to court records, the doctor responded.
Finally, the appeal was reviewed by a pair of law scholars at the University of Pennsylvania, who serve as Brody’s expert advisors. They rejected the discovery of the former reviewers that racial norms were mandated under the settlement. Still, they concluded that Davenport’s doctors had to explain whether Davenport would normally use them or just abandon them in order to win the award.
“The use of race-specific criteria is very important, and coordination can often make a difference between clinicians’ decisions on cognitive impairment and decisions on the normal functioning of retired NFL players seeking benefits. “Yes,” wrote special masters David A Hoffman and Wendell E Pritchett in a decision on August 20th.
A few days later, Davenport and another former Pittsburgh Steeler, Kevin Henry, filed a civil rights lawsuit, drawing public attention for the first time on the issue. Through the proceedings, their lawyers wanted to know how often black players were denied payment.
Instead, Brody dismissed the proceedings, saying they were detained in the settlement because they had not opted out many years ago. But with growing concerns about racism and racial unrest in 2020 still boiling, Brody in April changed his practice when he ordered league lawyers and players to form an agreement. I opened the door.
Jennifer Manly, a neuropsychologist at Columbia University hired by Davenport’s lawyer, misunderstood the racial norms of medicine and called it obsolete in a court submission.
A racial-based adjustment of neurology known as the “Heaton Code” was designed by Dr. Robert Heaton in the early 1990s to estimate how socioeconomic factors affect someone’s health. It was. Although they are widely used, in recent years scientists in this field have begun to recognize the limitations of the normative comparison groups they have used for many years.
A small sample group of black heatons chose to create his coordinating protocol entirely from San Diego, a military town where the black population hardly reflects the diversity of blacks across the United States. Racial classification is also binary (black or white), even though hundreds of NFL retirees and millions of Americans have identified it as a mixed race.
“White and black retired NFL players may be more similar to each other than the reference groups used to develop heaton or (other) race-specific norms,” Manly said in the Davenport proceedings. I’m writing in her overview. Some neurology experts say the NFL’s evaluation program is flawed. Possin said UCSF considered participating in the evaluation but decided to oppose it.
“We refused to participate in these evaluations because they didn’t seem to be good clinical practice for us,” Possin said. “Perhaps the neurologists who evaluated them had a number of these players who were pretty sure they were suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and dementia, but perhaps they were enough. It wasn’t a low score to. They didn’t meet the NFL payment criteria for payment because they didn’t cross the threshold. And I think that’s a real shame. “
Dr. Francis X. Conidi, a neurologist and former president of the Florida Neurology Society, who has worked with hundreds of former NFL players, wrote a critique of the reconciliation assessment program in 2018, making players “fictitious.” He said he developed a system that is classified as. Level 1, Level 1.5, Level 2 “diagnosis category” of neurocognitive impairment. Only those classified as Level 1.5 or 2 are eligible for settlement.
Conidi said these categories can confuse the cause of the patient’s symptoms and include standard work-ups for dementia, including neuroimaging and other tests that are not currently under evaluation. It was recommended to adopt the included protocol.
The NFL Dementia Test assesses a person’s functioning with 20 skills in five sections. Complex attention / processing speed. Executive function; language; learning and memory; and vision. Players must show a significant reduction in at least two to win the prize.
In the example shared with the Associated Press, one player’s raw score of 19 in the “Character Number Sequence” of the Processing section was adjusted using “Race Noming” to be 42 for whites and 46 for blacks. I did.
The raw score of 15 for naming animals in the language section was 35 for whites and 41 for blacks. And the raw score 51 for “block design” in the visual section was 53 for whites and 60 for blacks.
Combined with the 24 scores, white or black players are low enough to reach 1.5 levels of early dementia in the settlement at “processing speed”. However, in the language section, the score identified whites as 2.0 levels, or findings of moderate dementia, but did not show black disability.
Overall, the score gives whites a 1.5-level dementia award, but nothing for blacks. These awards average over $ 400,000, but can reach $ 1.5 million for men under the age of 45. On the other hand, with 2.0 levels of dementia, you pay an average of over $ 600,000, which can reach $ 3 million.
Breton Asken, a Neuropsychology Fellow at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, helped manage several assessments around 2016 when he was a student at the University of Florida. The evaluation he was involved in took 4-6 hours and a score was created. Scores are adjusted based on Heaton’s criteria.
“So the male black athletes we saw will essentially be compared to a group of healthy blacks of similar age and age,” Asken said.
Even then, he and his colleagues said they were worried about improper evaluation and coordination.
“I think we’ve always hesitated to be robots about this,” Asken said. “I understand why something needs to be a little more algorithmic and robotic from a legal point of view, it can be standardized, etc. But there are also many challenges when making clinical decisions by professionals. I think there is. “
They reported the level of disability of the person in a “letter of law” and “everything else we thought was important as it was related to the patient’s brain health, physical health, mental health, etc.” I will provide comments that convey what I should include in something like a standard neuropsychological report. “
The test battery also included a mood and personality survey. However, he said these scores were not included in the algorithm for determining compensation.
“They have undergone a complete neurological examination from these neurologists who can pick up other aspects of the nervous system that may have problems, etc. This comprehensive neuropsychology It’s very strange to put together a report and ignore that data, “Asken recalls.
“Racial noming is not the stance the NFL should take,” said Dr. Artkaplan, a medical ethicist at New York University. “It continues to appear to be trying to eliminate people, not trying to do the right thing. It’s helping people with clinically obvious and severe disabilities.” He is a man in medicine. He said the long history of species prejudice includes a long-standing myth that blacks are less painful.
“There has always been this racism in medicine,” he said. “It was problematic because it was so closely tied to racism.”
Former Washington player Jenkins believes it all comes down to money.
“Racial norms may have had a benign origin, but they soon turned into tools that power people could use to help save money,” he said. ..
Still, Kaplan isn’t the only one who thinks more can be done here. The future of the NFL.
“These may be fights to escape the conclusion that football is too dangerous. It’s always close to the background,” Kaplan said. “It opens the door to many moms who say,’I don’t know if it’s the right sport for my child.'”
In March of the same month Brody dismissed the civil rights proceeding, the league announced an 11-year contract with a $ 113 billion worth of television partners.
The NFL family is trying to end “racism” with a $ 1 billion concussion reconciliation | NFL
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