In a report that was actually quite contrary to how I presented it above, the Associated Press quietly released a notice that the NFL probably hoped would fly under your radar. They are stopping the use of “race-norming” in evaluating claims from players in regards to the concussion settlement. At first glance, good! They are stopping a racist practice. If you are anything like me, maybe you sighed at first but were pleased to see it happened. Then, after a brief moment of consideration, or a further reading of the report…you suddenly realized the magnitude of what you just read and how fucked up it is.

This might not be the first you’ve heard about this. Upon reflection last year I remember seeing some small reports and rumors about something like this. At the time, it was another example in a long line of examples in the raging discussion about systemic racism. I saw it in the context of how black people frequently face doctors not taking them as seriously as they take white patients. Black players were having more difficulty getting heard by the NFL, because of course they were. Systemic racism is awful. Now with this report dropping, it doesn’t even feel like systemic racism, it just feels like straight-up vintage straightforward racism. Systemic racism largely feels like the result of unconscious bias. At least in most people. Most people don’t set out to deliberately discriminate or see themselves as racist, even when they are subconsciously being racist or discriminatory and a huge amount of people have had to reckon with their own internal biases and how they’ve contributed to the problem, myself included. Plenty more have chosen to put their heads in the sand and sing la la la la but in this case, I think a healthy number of those people should be able to look at what the NFL was doing here and see how fucking racist it is.

The NFL was using race-norming to deny black players claims in the consussion settlement. They were using it to say black players started at a lower level of cognitive function, so they can’t see the detrimental effects of concussions and their claims were being rejected. Like, holy shit. Denying players by using the assumption that they were already dumber than regular (white) people. Fucking yikes.

Race norming isn’t just a policy isolated to this specific thing, it’s disgustingly still widespread and used in a lot of ways, so what makes this even worse is the knowledge that while the NFL may be stopping it for this case, they are still likely doing it elseware for other things. Draft evaluation and the wonderlic spring to mind. If the NFL was willing to deny players this easily using an exceptionally racist practice in 2021 for the concussion settlement, just imagine what sort of shit we don’t know about. Makes me feel gross. Using bullshit race science to deny giving black players money for the harm their institution generates.

Anyway it honestly had been a while since something evil the NFL does came out, sometimes we need those reminders lest we get complacent with our overlords. Have a great weekend!