Skip to Content



NFL Commissioner addresses 'race-norming' concussion lawsuit

June 09, 2021 19:42 PM UTC
- Updated June 29, 2021 17:41 PM UTC

Roger Goodell joins Fortune Global Forum.

So another subject that's been front and center for the NFL and for all sports over the past year is the social justice movement, you know, which really took center stage, you know, about a year ago with the killing of George Floyd. Um, the NFL announced earlier this year that you've reached more than $95 million change social justice program, which donates to nonprofits. You yourself have said that the league was wrong for silencing players who were peacefully protesting and in particular, that you wish you had listened earlier to Colin Kaepernick, The former 49 ers quarterback, and what he was saying after he began kneeling during the national anthem. So you've taken a lot of steps, uh, in a lot of different directions to address equity, you know, in a public way. Um, at the same time last week, the NFL said it would end the use of what's called race nor ming a process which assumed that black players started out with lower cognitive function In evaluating retired players who make claims for brain injuries under the settlement, $1 billion dollar settlement You made it in 2013. And that practice may have denied some of these players benefits based on race. That news has kind of shocked and outraged many people and lead to new accusations of the week acting in a institutionally racist way. How do you respond and how do you explain, you know, where the process went wrong here? Well, brian, uh, you have a lot of facts that you've thrown into their, which I would take issue with. But let's go to the core of what you just said at the end there, which is we entered into an agreement and a settlement under the court supervision. So the court supervised all aspects of the programs including today. So we don't have any control over who gets those benefits and who does not get those benefits. That's determined by experts that are determined by the courts. That includes the process of which individual players and their families are evaluated during that process. We were very open and willing to change any aspect of that process that the courts wanted us to change. We have worked with the experts to make sure that that change occurred and we've made that change to make sure that the people who should be getting the benefits, get the benefit and that they're done with the best practice is possible. And these practices are the ones that wore the standard uh, for everyone in this field. So what we've really done is look at this and say, how can we improve on that? And how can we make that better? And I think that's what I think all parties are proud of because all parties work together to try to accomplish them. But do you I mean, if you're looking back at it, I mean, there was a negotiated process with the settlement, um there's, you know, a lot of this was based on, I guess theoretically, you know, uh standard practice in neuroscience and things. But I mean, do you think like the process could have been negotiated better? I mean, you're in the position of of saying we need to end this practice now. Uh Do you have sort of regrets about, you know, what led you to that point, brian, again, I'm trying to make it clear to you that we were only one party to the settlement and the settlement was overseen by the courts. The courts are the ones that ultimately make the decisions about the processes that are used to evaluate players to receive benefits. So we're just a party to that. We participated in saying yes, we think this should be changed. If there are better processes, we support that, and that's what we've done.