Senator Harris Makes Statement Regarding NFL Discrimination – In response to claims that the NFL discriminates against African-American players with regards to head-injury claims, Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey), who played in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Kansas City Chiefs, made the following statement:
“It is sickening that the National Football League uses race to determine concussion settlements. Black players who sustained injuries while playing deserve the same support as white players. This is further proof the NFL does not care about players’ livelihoods after their football career is finished – but rather only when they can help out the league.”
On Tuesday, retired NFL players Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry filed suit against the National Football League. According to the complaint, the NFL uses race-based benchmarks to evaluate head-injury claims. In addition, the complaint stated that the NFL uses “race-norming” to adjust injury scoring. “Race-norming” is the practice of adjusting scoring of tests based on the ethnicity of the test-taker. In this case, the NFL guidelines of of cognitive function starts the Black player out at a lower level of cognitive function as a “norm,” meaning that in order to prove a cognitive decline and receive financial compensation through the NFL’s concussion settlement program, a Black player needs to show a larger cognitive decline.
Senator Harris continued by stating, “Nearly 70% of the league’s players are Black, yet a system has been created that holds Black players and white players to different standards. In other professions, distinctions based on race rise to the level of constitutional violations, so why is it ok for the NFL to put players in different groups based on race? The NFL needs to be advised on equality, and these players continue to advocate for long-term benefits after retirement. If current players do not get on top of this now, it will be a continuous cycle abused by the NFL.”