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Lawyer admits error in allowing race-norming to affect concussion settlement

Mike Florio and Chris Simms unpack how salary cap disappears from the books for players cut and how teams can push cap charges to the next year for players traded, since it's after June 1.

Lawyer Christopher Seeger, who represents former players in the concussion litigation, has come under fire for the fact that the settlement uses “race-norming” in a way that makes it harder for Black players to receive benefits. Most recently, an effort was launched to have him removed. Now, Seeger admits that should not have agreed to that approach.

“I was wrong,” Seeger tells ABC News. “I didn’t have a full appreciation of the scope of the problem. You think you know everything. Sometimes you don’t. But the closer I looked, the more I realized that this had to go.

“I’m really sorry that anybody, any client of mine in this program has been made to feel that way. That is a big mistake. It was a failure of the system. I’m a part of that. But I’m also a part of getting it fixed.”

In March, Seeger said that he had not seen any evidence of racial bias in the settlement program. He now calls that a “poor choice of words.”

“I now have dug into enough claims to tell you that the norms were applied more than they should have been,” Seeger said. “And that’s why I’m saying I might have jumped to an early conclusion.”

Seeger wants race-norming to be eliminated, and for every claim to be reviewed to determine whether it was applied. The practice results in the average Black player being regarded as having a lower level of cognitive function, making it harder for those former players to prove impairment.

Seeger hopes the league will agree to the approach, which could increase significantly the costs of the settlement.

“The ability to pay is there,” Seeger said. “There’s no question about it. We’ve got 32 billionaires there. They got plenty of money. The NFL is 70 percent Black or more, at least in the retired player population. They need to do the right thing.”

A lawsuit attacking the settlement has failed, but the settlement could be reopened by the presiding judge. Seeger is finally on board with that approach. While that’s no guarantee that adjustments will be made to the settlement procedures, it’s far more likely than if both sides were resisting it.