Scott Pioli slams NFL for race-norming of concussion settlement, as payouts to some Black players increase

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There’s a lot happening right now in the NFL. Which means that stories that otherwise would ping loudly on the PFT radar screen in the post-draft/pre-camp lull can easily be overlooked.

Here’s one that had a hard time ascending above the noise of the first full weekend of the preseason. And it has drawn a sharp, and gutsy, reaction from a current employee of NFL Network.

The practice of “race-norming” made it far more difficult for Black players to qualify for benefits under the settlement of the concussion litigation. It assumed a lower cognitive baseline for Black players. Impairment, based on current cognitive condition versus the presumptive starting point, became much harder to prove.

That blew up on the league, thanks to the persistent efforts of Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport to push the issue. A report released on Friday showed that nearly half of the 646 Black players whose cognitive tests were rescored qualify for compensation for dementia. Of that amount, 61 have early to moderate dementia; their awards on average exceeded $600,000.

Another 250 players have milder dementia. They’ll receive up to $35,000 for enhanced medical testing and treatment.

As noted by the Associated Press, “thousands” of other Black former players can seek to be rescored or retested. There’s a concern that many former players don’t realize that they can be rescored or retested. If they live alone and/or have cognitive issues, they’re not likely to realize that they have rights that can be pursued, or how to go about pursuing them.

It’s important for the league to help get the word out, too. Of course, it has no financial incentive to do so. With no cap on the total payments that will be made to the former players who can prove a qualifying condition without showing that it ties to football at any level, the league has every reason to minimize any attention given to the issue.

At least one NFL employee is willing to shine a light on the situation. Former NFL G.M. Scott Pioli, who currently works for NFL Network and CBS, called the use of race-norming in the concussion settlement “absolutely despicable and hateful.”

“I’m close to speechless,” Pioli tweeted on Monday night.

Pioli, posting a link to a Deadspin article on the situation, repeats this conclusion regarding the Brian Flores racial discrimination lawsuit, the ongoing use of “coded language” in criticizing Black quarterbacks, and the race-norming wrinkle to the concussion litigation: “It’s all connected.”

Indeed it is. While the league can plausibly claim that it had no idea that a standard adjustment the testing algorithm for race would affect Black players in a negative way, the NFL otherwise seems to be sufficiently strategic and calculating to have reasonably noticed at some point that this uncapped and unlimited liability would be reduced if it’s harder for Black players to prove impairment. With the lawyers representing the players and the court presiding over the settlement not realizing this important facet of the broader formula, it became even easier for the league to sit back and do/say nothing.

The best way to make true amends for the situation would be for the NFL to now fully utilize its various platforms to get the message to former players who may have been affected by prior rules to try again.

Yes, it will cost the league money. But it’s definitely the right thing to do, especially if the league’s recent efforts in recent years to combat racism are anything more than window dressing.

22 responses to “Scott Pioli slams NFL for race-norming of concussion settlement, as payouts to some Black players increase

  1. Really awful.

    If prior players submitted a claim, the NFL (or someone) should have contact information. Would seem relatively easy for the NFL to follow up with each person (or their personal representative) for re-evaluation. It’s not that hard to do.

  2. Now we see why the NFL wants to up Watson’s fine. They have to get the extra money somewhere.

  3. It always surprises me how dumb the NFL can be. They have a product that prints money and they do their best to shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.

  4. Its the behind the curtain dealings like this, the Kraft, Jones, Snyder behavior going unpunished, and the NFL’s whoring out their product that make me wish I could stop watching the games. But I can’t, so I guess it will continue. Heavy sigh

  5. I don’t have much sympathy for current players, who become members of the elite 1% the moment they sign on the dotted line and many of whom could be set for life after only a year of playing (yet somehow still have outsized senses of entitlement), but older players from a few decades back have a lot more issues stacked against them, and I hope they get all the support and protection now that they didn’t have access to then.

  6. Who is currently running things worse? The people in NFL or the people in the Federal Government?

  7. radar773 says:
    August 16, 2022 at 11:55 am
    Shameful act by the NFL. Pioli is absolutely correct.

    4011Rate This

    ————–

    I like seeing NFL employees and former Patriots peeps call out Godell’s disgusting existence.

  8. I went to college with Pioli in CT. It is good to see he still has the same integrity he had back then and calling it like he sees it when League is literally dead wrong in their bogus assessment and treatment of these former players that brought so much attention to the league.

  9. gabbertformvp says:
    August 16, 2022 at 11:50 am
    Well why not test new players and establish a cognitive baseline and prove it?

    Because people wouldn’t like the results. Not in today’s climate

  10. The nfl makes over 40+ million alone in just fines for 1 year. Look how much Jerry makes just from beer on 1 game

  11. gabbertformvp says:
    August 16, 2022 at 11:50 am
    Well why not test new players and establish a cognitive baseline and prove it?

    andalpnaditch says:
    August 16, 2022 at 1:28 pm
    Because people wouldn’t like the results. Not in today’s climate

    Because it would prove beyond any doubt that *every* football player except kickers gets some brain damage from being hit in the head 1000s of times starting in HS or earlier. And that wouldn’t be good for the NFL and their money printer.

  12. minime says:
    August 16, 2022 at 12:29 pm
    Proof before payment.
    _________

    Medical science has conclusively proven that the repeated blows to the head cause cognitive impairment, yet some random internet commenter thinks he knows otherwise. It seems that you may have taken too many shots to your head.

  13. “It’s important for the league to help get the word out, too. Of course, it has no financial incentive to do so”
    Last I checked they had an NFLPA that is supposed to be an advocate for the players…. past and present

  14. Roger should be seeking out and purging this type of systemic racism from the NFL, and any partners or vendors. Quickly. It’s insane that ever was put in place at all, but it should have been fixed a long time ago.

  15. This is a Damn shame ! This should be Major headline news ! Also an investigation should take place to see how high up the ladder did this go and all should be fired immediately!!! The NFL is 70-80% black and this shows how they are thought of. Unreal !!! This is 2022 and this stuff is still going on and trying to be covered up.

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