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“Blindsided/Out of Bounds”

Excellence in Broadcast National/International Coverage, Honoring Jack R. Howard

ABC News, 2022

Author(s): Pete Madden, Cho Park, Ryan Smith and Cindy Galli | ABC News


The ABC News investigations, “Blindsided” and “Out of Bounds,” dramatically leveled the playing field for Black former NFL players seeking compensation through the league’s court-mandated concussion settlement program.

In a powerful series of investigative reports that aired on “Nightline,” the ABC News team successfully called into question the measures and inherent algorithmic biases being used to determine which former players qualified for compensation.

The series exposed the practice known as race-norming, in which formulas used to measure cognitive decline and determine payout eligibility differed between white and Black players. The formula that was being used assumed that Black players start at a lower cognitive baseline than their white counterparts — an assumption that lacks any foundation in science.

During an eight-month investigation, the ABC News team obtained emails from neuropsychologists involved in the settlement program who questioned the validity and fairness of the differing formulas. Importantly, the news team also obtained a dataset that showed the differing formulas made it significantly less likely that Black players, who make up about 70% of the league’s playing roster, would receive a payout.

After ABC’s meticulous reporting and powerful storytelling that humanized the agonizing effects of a career in the NFL, the NFL ended the practice of race-norming in determining payout eligibility. Further, the American Academy of Neuropsychology has called for the elimination of race as a factor in all future neuropsychological tests.

Honoring Jack R. Howard
Black and white photo of a man in a striped suit smiling by his desk covered with newspapers

Jack R. Howard is credited with expanding The E.W. Scripps Company’s presence in the field of broadcasting. In 1937, he was elected president of the Scripps radio company. Jack succeeded his father, Roy W. Howard, as president of Scripps-Howard in 1953. He retired in 1976.