Troubled Bucs star Antonio Brown plays down naked clip that shows him twerking in woman’s face

Troubled Bucs star Antonio Brown plays down naked clip that shows him twerking in woman's face 2
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Ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is downplaying video that shows him sticking his butt in a woman’s face and brandishing his penis while  vacationing at a Dubai swimming pool where other guests were present. 

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In a tweet Saturday, Brown claimed the woman, who appears to be trying to get away in the video, was complicit in the interaction which took place during a trip at the Armani Hotel in Dubai on May 14.

‘In the video you can clearly see she runs off with my swim trunks. If roles were reversed the headlines would read “AB having a wild night with nude female”. Yet when it’s me it automatically becomes a hate crime,’ he wrote.

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A staffer, speaking under the condition of anonymity, told the New York Post that other guests complained about Brown snubbing the United Arab Emirates’ strict dress code by flaunting his bare chest inside the hotel. Other complaints also accused Brown of smoking marijuana in his room, which is a criminal offense in the country.

The controversy-prone Brown, 34, also used the backlash from the video as an opportunity to bring up the concussion controversy currently embroiling the NFL. 

‘It’s crazy to me that even after I retire there is disinformation coming out about me. Ironically, during a time when the NFL is getting heat for allowing players to play when they’re clearly concussed. They’ve been using black men as guinea pigs.’

The seven-time Pro Bowler was referring to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who after officially escaping a concussion on Sunday in Miami, was diagnosed with a head injury on Thursday following a medical evaluation process that is plaguing the NFL.

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Brown, 34, on Sunday joked about returning to the NFL by making light of the incident. It follows his Twitter rant over the weekend in which he downplayed the May 14 incident

Ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown is speaking out after creating a scene caught on video sticking his butt out at a woman’s face and brandishing his penis in a Dubai swimming pool

On Saturday , he tweeted, 'It's crazy to me that even after I retire there is disinformation coming out about me. Ironically, during a time when the NFL is getting heat for allowing players to play when they're clearly concussed. They've been using black men as guinea pigs.

On Saturday afternoon, he tweeted, ‘It’s crazy to me that even after I retire there is disinformation coming out about me. Ironically, during a time when the NFL is getting heat for allowing players to play when they’re clearly concussed. They’ve been using black men as guinea pigs.

Troubled Bucs star Antonio Brown plays down naked clip that shows him twerking in woman's face 3

Troubled Bucs star Antonio Brown plays down naked clip that shows him twerking in woman's face 5

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Tagovailoa was cleared to return Sunday, despite stumbling to the ground and continuing to struggle even after getting back on his feet. Teammates needed to help keep the 24-year-old Hawaiian upright before he was removed from the game moments before halftime.

Both he and the team later claimed that Tagovailoa was not suffering from a head injury, but rather, an aggravated and existing back problem. After the upset win – led by Tagovailoa – he and the Dolphins said he was cleared by doctors, who had examined him for concussion symptoms. 

Brown himself suffered a concussion after a shocking hit from Cincinnati Bengals defender Vontaze Burfict during the 2015 season. 

All of the receiver’s controversies, including multiple arrests and an accusation of sexual assault, happened after the violent hit and concussion. 

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Witnesses to his most recent incident in Dubai told the New York Post that others egged Brown on to keep shoving his butt at the woman. 

He then made matters worse by snatching a head scarf from another swimmer and trying to tie it around the woman. 

Brown proceeded to lift her and slam her into the pool, with one onlooker quipping that he was ‘waterboarding her.’

Another man responded, ‘He’s giving her the long board.’ 

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Brown then flashed his penis at the woman, asking, ‘You want it?’  After the story emerged Saturday, Brown insisted the woman had in fact snatched his trunks for a game, and that he hadn’t done anything to upset her. 

The seven-time Pro Bowler added, 'Every chance they get to sway the heat off themselves they use me. In the video you can clearly see she runs off with my swim trunks. If roles were reversed the headlines would read 'AB having a wild night with nude female'. Yet when it's me it automatically becomes a hate crime'

The seven-time Pro Bowler added, ‘Every chance they get to sway the heat off themselves they use me. In the video you can clearly see she runs off with my swim trunks. If roles were reversed the headlines would read ‘AB having a wild night with nude female’. Yet when it’s me it automatically becomes a hate crime’

Brown referred to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa in a tweet on Saturday. Tagovailoa who escaped a concussion on Sunday in Miami, but was diagnosed with a head injury on Thursday following a medical evaluation process that is at the center of a growing controversy for the NFL

Brown referred to Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa in a tweet on Saturday. Tagovailoa who escaped a concussion on Sunday in Miami, but was diagnosed with a head injury on Thursday following a medical evaluation process that is at the center of a growing controversy for the NFL 

Members of the Miami Dolphins surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) as he is carted off the field after a hit in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals

Members of the Miami Dolphins surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) as he is carted off the field after a hit in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals

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Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown was filmed flashing a woman his bare butt and penis while at the Armani Hotel Dubai swimming pool. He is pictured enjoying a swim on another occasion during the same vacation

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown was filmed flashing a woman his bare butt and penis while at the Armani Hotel Dubai swimming pool. He is pictured enjoying a swim on another occasion during the same vacation 

Brown (pictured in the same trip) was seen repeatedly flashing the woman and grabbing her inside the pool, asking her, 'You want it?' as he showed his privates

Brown (pictured in the same trip) was seen repeatedly flashing the woman and grabbing her inside the pool, asking her, ‘You want it?’ as he showed his privates   

The former NFL star-turned-aspiring rapper was in Dubai with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for an exhibition boxing match (above). A hotel staffer said multiple people complained about Brown allegedly breaking laws in the strict United Arab Emirates

The former NFL star-turned-aspiring rapper was in Dubai with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for an exhibition boxing match (above). A hotel staffer said multiple people complained about Brown allegedly breaking laws in the strict United Arab Emirates 

It's the latest in a series of controversies that led the former Buccaneer (left, alongside Tom Brady) to quit the NFL and kickstart a rapping career

It’s the latest in a series of controversies that led the former Buccaneer (left, alongside Tom Brady) to quit the NFL and kickstart a rapping career

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Two witnesses told the Post that Brown continued to flaunt his privates at the woman several times and said multiple people complained to hotel staff about his actions. 

Representatives from the hotel declined to comment on the incident. 

The hotel incidents all took place during Brown’s visit to Dubai with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for an exhibition boxing match. 

The Middle East nation follows Sharia law and has a strict set of morality codes that could’ve landed Brown in serious trouble. 

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It’s the latest in a long series of shocking behavior that has resulted in Brown leaving the NFL in controversy and turning to rap music. 

Armani Hotel Dubai hotel staffer, Brown (above) was flashing his bare chest at chests inside the hotel, which is against the United Arab Emirates' dress-code

Armani Hotel Dubai hotel staffer, Brown (above) was flashing his bare chest at chests inside the hotel, which is against the United Arab Emirates’ dress-code

Brown, pictured posing over a bridge in Dubai, could have faced severe consequences from the United Arab Emirates, which follows Sharia law

Brown, pictured posing over a bridge in Dubai, could have faced severe consequences from the United Arab Emirates, which follows Sharia law 

The troubled Pro Bowler shocked NFL fans across the country when he had a public meltdown in the middle of a game in January. 

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As the Bucs played against the Jets at MetLife Stadium, the benched Brown hopped into the field, shirtless, after an apparent dispute with coaches about whether he was healthy enough to play. 

Brown claimed his outburst was fueled by ‘dangerous painkillers’ that Buccaneers’ medical staff gave him for his ankle injury.   

He was suspended days later, with Buccaneers officials saying he refused help for his mental health. 

While the incident ultimately left Brown off the team and floating around as a free agent before he announced he was quitting the NFL, he had long been followed by controversy before that. 

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Embattled NFL star Antonio Brown claims he was suffering a severe ankle injury and that he'd been injected with a dangerous painkiller by Tampa Bay Buccaneers medical staff shortly before he stormed off the field in January

Embattled NFL star Antonio Brown claims he was suffering a severe ankle injury and that he’d been injected with a dangerous painkiller by Tampa Bay Buccaneers medical staff shortly before he stormed off the field in January

Brown seen leaving the sideline on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey

Brown gestured to the crowd as he exited the field at MetLife Stadium

Brown seen before (left) and during (right) his outburst, was suspended days later, with Buccaneers officials saying he refused help for his mental health 

A N.J. State Police trooper, background, watches as Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown throws his gloves into the stands in his infamous walk-off

A N.J. State Police trooper, background, watches as Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown throws his gloves into the stands in his infamous walk-off

In 2020, former female trainer Britney Taylor filed a lawsuit against Brown, accusing him of sexually assaulting her. 

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While the suit was settled out of court, Brown was suspended for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. 

That same year, Brown faced burglary and battery charges in Florida for attacking a truck driver delivering his belongings from California after being traded from the Oakland Raiders. 

Brown was ordered to serve two years of probation, which included taking anger management courses. 

THE NFL’S COMPLICATED HISTORY ON CONCUSSIONS

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The conflict between NFL profits and player health is nothing new, although the effort to reduce traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) is, relatively speaking. And it’s that discrepancy that resulted in countless avoidable cases of brain damage, according to epidemiologist and George Washington University professor David Michaels.

An expert on environmental and occupational health who served as OSHA assistant secretary under Barack Obama from 2009 until 2017, Michaels wrote a book in 2020, The Triumph of Doubt, illustrating various industries’ strategies to suppress data on the  inherent dangers of their products.

‘It remains a fundamental contradiction within football – for both the league and the players – that more football brings in more revenue, but it also increases the number and severity of brain damage cases,’ Michaels told the Daily Mail in 2020.

‘No other profession—not one—outranks professional football in causing life-altering injuries.’

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CTE – THE BRAIN DISEASE CAUSED BY REPEATED HEAD TRAUMA THAT IS COMMON IN NFL PLAYERS AND VETS AFTER THEY DIE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by repeated hits to the head. Over time, these hits result in the accumulation of tau protein around the brain, which can lead to confusion, depression and eventually dementia.

There have been several retired football players who have come forward with brain diseases, many of whom attribute their condition to the game. 

More than 1,800 former athletes and military veterans have pledged to donate their brains to the Concussion Legacy Foundation for CTE research.

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CTE was usually associated with boxing before former NFL players began revealing their conditions. 

Several notable players who committed suicide were posthumously diagnosed with the disease, such as Junior Seau and Aaron Hernandez. 

While often connected to concussions, many researchers like Lee E. Goldstein, MD, PhD, an associate professor at Boston University, now believe sub-concussive hits also play a major part in CTE. 

‘Over the course of an NFL season, the overwhelming majority of hits are sub-concussive,’ Goldstein told DailyMail.com. ‘I’m not saying [the NFL is] wrong for focusing on concussions. But I am saying they’re mis-prioritizing.’ 

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With faulty science and flawed studies conducted by conflicted researchers, Michaels argues, the NFL delayed meaningful preventative action on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) until the early 2000s – a decade after first resolving to address head injuries and nearly a century after the neurodegenerative disease was discovered in 1928.

‘The steps that are being taken now, which we think will be useful in reducing the terrible damage to the brains of players, they could have been implemented years earlier,’ said Michaels. ‘The lives of many players may have been greatly improved had that been done.’

The NFL did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment in response to the 2020 interview with Michaels. However, the league did refute any similarities between itself and the tobacco industry in a statement given to the New York Times in 2016: ‘The NFL is not the tobacco industry; it had no connection to the tobacco industry.’

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Before the 1990s, the NFL didn’t need such tactics. It was when journalists and fans began noticing a spike in concussions that the league took action, and that was only after then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue called it a ‘pack journalism issue’ while claiming that concussions only occurred ‘every three or four games.’

Tagliabue’s comments ignited a small controversy at the time, prompting him to start the Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBI) Committee, which was aimed at reducing the ‘injury risks in football.’

The problem, aside from its euphemistic choice of the word ‘mild,’ was that the committee didn’t do very much.

‘For eight years, the committee published nothing,’ Michaels said. ‘Evidence accumulated, but even when they started publishing papers, the papers were really covering up the problem. They asked questions in the wrong way. To me, it looked like they knew the answers they wanted to find before they even did a study.’

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The NFL had claimed the MTBI committee was impartial, but when it finally did publish 13 papers in ‘Neurosurgery’ between 2003 and 2006, Michaels explained, ‘obvious conflicts of interests’ emerged.

Several members of the committee were clinical consultants for NFL teams, including the group’s chairman, Elliot Pellman, a rheumatologist who served as the New York Jets’ team doctor and also happened to be Tagliabue’s personal physician.

In fact, over a dozen of the MBTI members had connections to league franchises. And that’s not to mention Michael L. J. Apuzzo, a Neurosurgery editor who happened to be a medical consultant to the New York Giants.

It’s not known if those conflicts affected the research directly, but Michaels argued that the MBTI committee’s misguided conclusions did minimize the long-term risks of football.

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For one, the concussion data was hardly comprehensive.

The records between 1996 through 2001 omitted more than 100 diagnosed concussions, according to the Times.

In response to that finding, the NFL acknowledged that ‘the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did.’

And while the NFL admitted that detail should have been made clearer, the league denied any effort to ‘alter or suppress the rate of concussions.’

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Bill Barr, a neuropsychologist who once worked for the New York Jets, stopped short of accusing the NFL of a cover-up, but did criticized the MBTI’s findings to the New York Times.

‘You’re not doing science here; you are putting forth some idea that you already have,’ he said in 2016.

On top is a normal brain, unaffected by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). On the bottom,  a brain sample from deceased former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, who had stage IV CTE, as seen by the dark tau protein buildup around the edges

On top is a normal brain, unaffected by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). On the bottom,  a brain sample from deceased former University of Texas football player Greg Ploetz, who had stage IV CTE, as seen by the dark tau protein buildup around the edges 

Michaels took aim at one study from Pellman and his co-author David Viano that asserted ‘mild [traumatic brain injuries] in professional football are not serious injuries’ because so many players return to the field within a week, often within the same game.

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Furthermore, the paper argued, concussed players could safely return to the field, so long as they didn’t show any lingering effects.

‘These players had to be asymptomatic, with normal results on clinical and neurological examinations, and be cleared by a knowledgeable team physician,’ read the paper. ‘There were no adverse effects, and the results once again are in sharp contrast to the recommendations in published guidelines and the standard of practice of most college and high school football team physicians.’

That same six-year study claimed that ‘no NFL player experienced second-impact syndrome, chronic cumulative injury, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from repeated injuries.’

CTE can only be diagnosed posthumously so the absence of any confirmed cases in this study should have been expected.

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In 2017, researchers at Boston University found some degree of CTE in 99 percent of former NFL players, 91 percent of players who stopped playing after college, and 21 percent of those who only made it to the high school level.

Experts caution that there is a selection bias in this study, as the families of players who had evident signs of head injuries were far more likely to donate to the BU brain bank.

Even so, the paper’s claim that ‘no NFL player experienced… chronic traumatic encephalopathy from repeated injuries’ hasn’t withstood the test of time.

But perhaps there was no greater overreach than the claim made within a paper titled: ‘Concussion in Professional Football: Brain Responses by Finite Element Analysis.’

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The authors, including Pellman, posited that players who reach the NFL level might be somehow immune from concussions.

‘[T]here may be a natural selection of athletes that make it to the NFL because players more prone to concussion may have been weeded out during high school and college play,’ read the paper, which was published in Neurosurgery. ‘Brain responses shown here may represent those of players who are most resistant to the damaging effects of neural deformation during head impact.’

Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw is aided by team trainers during a game against the Cowboys

Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw is aided by team trainers during a game against the Cowboys

The MTBI committee was dismissive when neuropathologist Bennet Omalu identified the symptoms of CTE in former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster’s autopsy in 2002. And when Omalu wrote a paper for Neurosurgery in 2005, calling for further CTE study by the NFL, the MTBI committee formally called for a retraction.

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‘Then, of course, when Bennet Omalu published the results of Iron Mike Webster’s autopsy in 2005, the leading members of the committee didn’t welcome the new data,’ Michaels said. ‘They attacked it. They demanded that Omalu retract his paper.’

The NFL even dismissed a league-funded 2009 study that showed former players are 19 times more likely to get dementia or other memory-related diseases.

Then-NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the New York Times that the study did not formally diagnose dementia, claiming that telephone surveys of former players were insufficient.

Miller ultimately acknowledged a connection between CTE and football before congress in 2016.

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As significant as a step as that was, it came amid other efforts to suppress unflattering media coverage.

The 2015 Sony film based on Omalu’s work, Concussion, was altered under pressure from the NFL to project a more favorable view of professional football and the league, according to reports by the New York Times and Deadspin.

‘The league has a great deal of leverage – in some ways more than a chemical company may have,’ Michaels said. ‘They know that they control the eyes of America for several hours every week. If the NFL went, took their business to other entertainment companies, then that would put a big dent in the profits of the companies that they work with.’

Deceased former Steelers center Mike Webster suffered from CTE, according to neuropathologist Bennet Omalu

Neuropathologist Bennet Omalu claimed to have discovered CTE in deceased former Steelers center Mike Webster, which was later the basis for the Will Smith film Concussion (pictured)

Neuropathologist Bennet Omalu claimed to have discovered CTE in deceased former Steelers center Mike Webster (left), which was later the basis for the Will Smith film Concussion (right)

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Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participates in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC

Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu participates in a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC

The NFL began changing rules in the 2000s, prohibiting dangerous tackles and formalizing a concussion protocol while threatening to fine non-compliant teams.

Team owners took further steps, pledging to fund $30 million to the National Institute of Health for independent CTE research in 2012, later giving another $100 million to Harvard researchers in 2013, and settling the aforementioned $1 billion concussion lawsuit with former players.

But even as the league’s check book remained open, critics argued that the NFL’s generosity came with strings attached.

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In the face of mounting lawsuits, the tried to pull NIH funding for a Boston University CTE study over objections to BU’s Dr. Robert Stern, a critic of the league, according to ESPN.com.

‘The NFL had their own researchers that they supported,’ Michaels said. ‘When researchers who are independent of the NFL, especially the group at Boston University, was designated by the National Institute of Health to be the primary recipients of this funding, the NFL objected and wanted the NIH to bring in scientists who already have a relationship with the NFL, who essentially had a conflict of interest.

‘That effort of the NFL failed, but it did show that the NFL did not want independent researchers looking at this problem.’

Data released in February by the NFL showed 187 concussions during the 2021 season, including preseason, all practices and games. While that is up from 172 the previous season, there were no exhibition games in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The concussion rate overall declined.

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Encouraged by the trend of decreased concussions, Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, believes much more can be done.

‘We are pleased with the concussion numbers, but we feel it’s not the full picture,’ Sills said, ‘and we really want to aggressively reduce and work to eliminate avoidable head contact.’

Miller noted that the increase from 16 to 17 games in the regular season, dropping one preseason game, did not appear to affect injury trends.

The preseason had the highest injury rate — soft tissue injuries are common in training camp and in exhibition games — and the new 18th week didn’t result in a spike of injuries.

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‘We didn’t see it,’ Miller said. ‘The injury rate in the last week of the regular season was no higher than previous weeks; there seemed to be a bit of a drop-off.’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) is checked for a concussion on the sideline by team doctors in the 4th quarter of the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 30, 2016

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) is checked for a concussion on the sideline by team doctors in the 4th quarter of the NFL game between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 30, 2016

WHAT IS THE NFL’S PROBLEM WITH ‘RACE NORMING’

Two years after a pair of former players sued the NFL over the treatment of black retirees in the league’s $1 billion concussion settlement, hundreds of men whose medical tests were rescored to eliminate race bias now qualify for awards.

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The newly approved payouts, announced in a report last month, were a victory for NFL families in the decade-long legal saga over concussions. The 2020 lawsuit unearthed the fact the dementia tests were being ‘race-normed’ — adjusted due to assumptions that black people have a lower cognitive baseline score. Changes to the settlement made last year are meant to make the tests race-blind.

The new results will add millions to the NFL’s payouts for concussion-linked brain injuries. A league spokesman did not return a phone call Friday or respond to emails sent in recent weeks seeking comment on the rescoring.

Defensive lineman Kevin Henry #76 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Three Rivers Stadium on September 19, 1993 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 34-7

Former Pittsburgh Steelers player Najeh Davenport is shown in Pittsburgh. Lawyers for the NFL and retired players filed proposed changes to the $1 billion concussion settlement on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, to remove race-norming in dementia testing, which made it more difficult for Black players to qualify for payments

Former Pittsburgh Steelers players Najeh Davenport (right) and Kevin Henry (left) are shown in Pittsburgh. Lawyers for the NFL and retired players filed proposed changes to the $1 billion concussion settlement on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, to remove race-norming in dementia testing, which made it more difficult for Black players to qualify for payments. Both Henry and Davenport had sued the league over the issue 

Of the 646 black men whose tests were rescored, nearly half now qualify for dementia awards. Sixty-one are classified as having early to moderate dementia, with average awards topping $600,000; nearly 250 more have milder dementia and will get up to $35,000 in enhanced medical testing and treatment, according to the claims administrator’s report.

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Former players, lawyers and advocates say they’ll now turn to getting the word out to more players who could receive awards.

‘Our work has produced some great results and has opened many eyes,’ said Ken Jenkins, a former Washington player who, along with his wife, petitioned the federal judge overseeing the settlement to make the changes and urged the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate. ‘Now we’re really focused on getting as many players who deserve compensation to be compensated.’

This first group of players had the best chance of success because they otherwise passed the testing protocols and would have qualified if they were white. Thousands of other Black former players can ask to be rescored or retested, but their cases might not be as strong based on earlier results on dementia, validity and impairment tests. About 70 percent of active players and 60 percent of living retirees are Black.

The fact that the testing algorithm adjusted scores by race — as a rough proxy for someone’s socioeconomic background — went unnoticed for several years until lawyers for former Steelers Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport sued the league. Factors such as age, education and race have long been used in neurology to help diagnose dementia. But experts say the formula was never meant to be used to determine payouts in a legal case.

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‘In 2022, how can you possibly think that another human being comes out of the womb with less cognitive ability? It’s just impossible to believe that that can be true,’ Jenkins said. ‘It’s unspeakable.’

Advocates fear that many former players don’t know they can be rescored or retested, especially if they have cognitive issues and live alone.

‘Men who are homeless, men who originally signed up but their cognitive function changed, men who are divorced or isolated — we are going to go looking for them,’ said Amy Lewis, Jenkins’ wife.

The couple, once critical of class counsel Chris Seeger for his response to the issue, now work with him to spread the word.

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Seeger — lead lawyer for the nearly 20,000 retired players, who negotiated the settlement with the NFL — has apologized for initially failing to see the scope of the racial bias. He vowed in a recent interview to ‘make sure the NFL pays every nickel they should.’

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is tested for a concussion after taking a hit in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 24, 2019

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate is tested for a concussion after taking a hit in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on November 24, 2019

The league’s tally just passed $1 billion in approved claims. However, appeals and audits mean actual payouts lag behind that number and now stand at about $916 million. Payouts include awards for four other compensable diagnoses: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and deaths before April 2015 involving CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

As reviewers tackle the thornier dementia claims, the process has slowed and audits and appeals intensified.

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‘Their mantra is deny, deny, delay until you die,’ said James Pruitt, 58, a wide receiver who played for Indianapolis and Miami from 1986 to 1991.

After his NFL retirement, Pruitt became a teacher and middle school principal in Palm Beach County, Florida. But in 2010, in his mid-40s, the district asked him to step down. He could no longer perform his duties. Over time, he stopped calling on friends from his playing days.

‘I don’t get out, and I don’t remember a lot of things. I’ve been told that I repeat things,’ he said. ‘I’m kind of embarrassed by the whole situation.’

After the settlement was approved in 2015, he and his wife attended meetings with lawyers who traveled the country to sell the plan to retired players’ groups.

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‘We were told … this was going to be a very easy process, you just need to go to the doctors, get a qualifying diagnosis from them,’ said Traci Pruitt, 42. ‘Yet here we are six years later, and we’re still getting the runaround.’

The couple has twice been approved by doctors only to have the decision overturned — once after their first doctor was removed from the program. Their lawyer believes they’ll be successful on their third try, under the race-neutral scoring formula. They’re still waiting to hear.

Traci Pruitt, an accountant who works from home, said an award would ensure she gets the help she needs to care for her husband: ‘While I love him, I don’t necessarily have that background and skill set.’

Seeger said he believes the claims process is picking up steam after a slow start.

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‘I know folks have said they weren’t moving that well for awhile. I think we’ve won some appellate battles with the courts,’ Seeger said. ‘I don’t think the NFL expected to pay $1 billion — and we’re about to cross $1 billion.’

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