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
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."
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
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
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?
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.