Emails show clinicians fear NFL concussion payout protocol is discriminatory: Part 2

Data suggests that race-based adjustments to cognitive test scores make it more difficult for Black players to qualify.
5:26 | 02/04/21

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Transcript for Emails show clinicians fear NFL concussion payout protocol is discriminatory: Part 2
And the part that you don't see is up here. You don't see how my brain is beat up, up there. I want them to pay. I feel that you disrespected the shield. Something you put so much value on. I feel you should pay. Henry and Davenport have filed a lawsuit alleging the NFL's concussion settlement program discriminates against black players. They're taking aim at a formula that could determine which football players have enough evidence of brain damage to receive compensation. A lot of people didn't know that this so-called demographic correction, this use of separate scales for black and white players, was being applied. They didn't know that it artificially altered the scores of the black players so that they couldn't qualify for benefits. Reporter: Attorney sy Smith represents both Henry and Davenport. Whenever a clinician, a neuropsychologist, tries to use something other than black norms for black players, white norms for white players, the NFL has consistently attacked those clinicians because they haven't used those black norms for black players. Reporter: Emails obtained by ABC news appear to show multiple clinicians agreeing with that assessment. Several neuropsychologists who work with the NFL privately discussing the lawsuit say they felt factoring for race was all but required under the program. One saying if they didn't use the racial norms, there would be multiple inquiries levied at them. Another writing about their required reliance on racial norms that, quote, bottom line, do discriminate against black a third even expressing regret at, quote, their culpability in this inadvertent systemic racism issue and saying, as a group, we could have been better The two named plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleging discrimination got results based on a test that didn't include race that showed that they were owed damages for their injuries. And that's what should have Reporter: In the case of najeh Davenport? Why, NFL, did you then appeal that decision in order to discriminate against them? Reporter: With their lawsuit, Henry and Davenport are seeking damages and asking the court for a declaration that requiring race norming in the settlement would be illegal. I'm not an ignorant guy, I'm not stupid. So why are you judging me like when it comes to compensation on this concussion lawsuit, I'm looked at differently. And it pisses me off. So let's change the system, man. If you -- if we change the system, then everybody would be compensated. Make it a fair system. Reporter: The NFL has received around 3,000 claims for compensation from former players, and already paid out more than $800 million, about 1 in 3 claims are approved. But the NFL has repeatedly denied requests to release demographic data on program payouts, making it impossible to determine whether this formula has skewed awards because of race. We've asked the NFL, we've asked class counsel who represents the settlement class for that information, and they haven't told us. Reporter: ABC news was able to obtain a data analysis that suggests the impact of the practice could be significant. An NFL affiliated clinician recently analyzed cognitive tests from a group of 94 black former players. When the clinician interpreted the scores as if the players were white, 34 qualified for compensation. But when the clinician applied the NFL's recommended demographic adjustments, only 10 qualified. The effect of using this race norm for the NFL is that it drastically limits the amount of damages they're going to have to pay out. It's almost the classic definition of racial discrimination. Using race as a basis of denying benefits to a disadvantaged or subordinated group because of race. Reporter: The league says it continues to be fully committed to paying all legitimate claims and defended their protocol, saying cognitive tests without adjustments were misdiagnosing black test-takers as cognitively impaired up to three times the rate as white test takers. The takes everything in me to keep from crying, man. Reporter: Henry says he'll continue fighting, not just for himself, but for the players who continue to suit up every Sunday. When you hear the NFL say, we stand against social injustice, we stand against racism, black lives matter, what do you think? Liars. They're liars, man. It sounds great, don't it? We stand with you! Boy, that sounds good. That's going to be a group of guys going to come behind me. I'm coming out for them. They don't think they need me, but they need me now. You need me. You need me speaking out, because you're going to need me later. They're going to do you just like they're doing me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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