If the NFL was upset about the way they were depicted in the television
documentary "League Of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth", then imagine
how they felt when they heard that Will Smith may be starring in a movie where
he portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first found
chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) while conducting an autopsy on Mike
Webster, the deceased center for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The film will be based on the 2009 GQ article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Here's a link to the article: Game Brain
Here's an excerpt from the article: "Let's say you run a multibillion-dollar football league. And let's say the scientific community - starting with one young pathologist in Pittsburgh and growing into a chorus of neuroscientists across the country—comes to you and says concussions are making your players crazy, crazy enough to kill themselves, and here, in these slices of brain tissue, is the proof. Do you join these scientists and try to solve the problem, or do you use your power to discredit them?"
They don't have a working title for the movie yet, but how about this one: "Head Games."
The NFL played a lot of head games with Dr. Omalu, especially when he tried to make his findings and research public. They worked hard to discredit him through their own doctors.
When the attacks on his character and professionalism began to take place, Dr. Omalu said "I thought the football industry would be happy with our new discovery. I thought naively that discovery of new information, unraveling new information, redefining concepts, I thought the football industry would embrace it — again, about my business experience — utilize it, turn it into some type of utility, some type of utility function to enhance the game."
Dr. Omalu quickly found out about the NFL's modus operandi when it comes to people that are a threat to their money making machine.
NFL football players have an expression we like to use when it comes to the NFL's game plan with respect to retired players. It's called: "Delay, Deny and Hope We Die."
The NFL has been masterful in delaying the research on concussions....denying former player's compensation for brain injuries..... and while we have been waiting since the first federal lawsuit and class action was filed on August 17, 2011, approximately 425 players have died.
I don't think the NFL actually hopes that the older players would just shut up and die - but it would make their lives a lot easier.
Ironically, it was the death of certain former players and the subsequent brain autopsies that broke the camel's back and provided the missing link between concussions and the development of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopothy).
The NFL is praying that the following interview with Dr. Omalu is not included in the movie:
Question: From your analysis, from what you've seen, what would your estimate be of how many NFL players that are playing the game right now probably have CTE?
Dr. Omalu: OK. Based on my experience, there has not been any NFL player I've examined that did not have CTE. Now, the degrees of advancement of the disease will be different, and they have different types. So my opinion is, based on my experience, is all of them....
Did you say all of them?
Dr. Omalu: All of them. All the NFL players I have examined pathologically, I have not seen one that did not have changes in their brain system with brain damage.
And your guess is it's not just a special group you are seeing who happen to kill themselves or whatever. It would be present even in active players even now?
Dr. Omalu: I think in active players who have played through high school, college, each and every one of them, in my opinion, has a certain degree of brain damage. CTE is progressive. Let me give you a good example.
No, finish the -- CTE is progressive; therefore --
Dr. Omalu: The longer they live, the more advanced the disease becomes. Am I making sense to you?
Until they become Mike Webster?
Dr. Omalu: Yes. Some of them may not degenerate as quickly as Mike Webster did, but as they get older. Am I making sense to you? There is individual variability, like in every other disease. Like high blood pressure, you have people who have high blood pressure, mild high blood pressure, moderate high blood pressure, serious high blood pressure, malignant high blood pressure, but it's the same disease with the same risk factors.
For former players, this movie will be a sad drama, but for the NFL it will be a complete horror story.
Here is the entire interview with the man that Will Smith will hopefully portray in the movie: