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Over 650 Black NFL Retirees Have Neurological Tests Rescored After Court Ruling

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 12, 2022

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Around 300 former Black NFL players are now eligible for financial compensation from the league's $1 billion concussion settlement after their neurological tests were rescored to eliminate adjustments to test scores based on race.

Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press reported Friday the cases of over 650 former players were reevaluated based on the updated test scores, which showed 51 qualified for compensation for advanced dementia and nearly 250 were eligible for financial support and further testing after showing signs of early dementia.

Seeger Weiss LLP, the law firm that handled the class-action concussion lawsuit, provided the update and noted thousands of other Black players can request new tests to determine whether they're eligible for a payout, per Dale.

The NFL announced a $765 million settlement agreement with former players in 2013 after the lawsuit was filed two years earlier. The estimated cost reached nearly $1 billion by the time it received final approval from U.S. District Judge Court Judge Anita B. Brody in 2015.

In June 2021, attorney Christopher Seeger told ABC News he accepted responsibility for the racial bias that had prevented many Black players from qualifying for benefits.

"I was wrong. I didn't have a full appreciation of the scope of the problem," Seeger said. "You think you know everything. Sometimes you don't. But the closer I looked, the more I realized that this had to go."

He added: "I'm really sorry that anybody, any client of mine in this program has been made to feel that way. That is a big mistake. It was a failure of the system. I'm a part of that. But I'm also a part of getting it fixed."

Active payouts have reached $916 million, and the total of approved claims has topped $1 billion, with some still being handled via appeals and audits, per Dale.

Three conditions are covered by the settlement: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. Deaths attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that occurred before the settlement was approved in 2015 are also covered.

As the costs related to the settlement payouts have risen, the NFL has "intensified" its appeal efforts by asking for a review by the BrownGreer PLC administration firm on nearly four of every 10 claims, which has caused some cases to "drag on for years," per Dale.

"Their mantra is deny, deny, delay until you die," wide receiver James Pruitt, who played for six NFL teams during a career that ended in 1998, told the AP.

The report noted the updated test results will "add millions" to the NFL's total payout.

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