Table of Contents
I am Michael Ehline. I am a personal injury expert and have practiced law for over 15 years. My experience is that I have lived and worked as a PI attorney for Angelinos and obtained millions for them. Also, I am recognized as a Super Lawyers Rising Star, and I stand with the best lawyers in L.A. Below, I will discuss everything football, baseball, and hockey players need to know about brain injuries.
To start with, the human body is an amazing organism. But for brain injury healing to take place, you must avoid hits, jarring and hard contact. A gang tackle can bury a quarterback or other bondsperson underneath a thousand pounds or more tangled opponents wearing stern cleats in football. NFL players regularly undergo violent collisions similar to what a person might experience in a motor vehicle accident. But in football, in exchange for a roll cage, seat restraints, and an airbag, players get pads and spiked shoes.
And they get helmets with exaggerated injury-preventing qualities. The forces of a crash involving motorcycle riders wearing protective gear are probably closer to what players experience when they get hit by their opposing human battering rams.
“Bezos is in discussions to buy into a company that operated as a non-profit, spending millions influencing the brain injury community against NFL players, 70% of whom are black. WaPo just gave the NFL over $5 million. Under the name Nash Holding, WaPo just destroyed the reputation of the doctor who represents NFL players with NFL related brain injuries..“
Due to the calls of concerned moms, families, and especially players’ wives, the overseers at NFL had to do something to rehabilitate the sport in the eyes of the public. But rather than try to engage in a period of scientific reconstruction, medical science became enslaved by grants and research dollars. The League created the “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee” (MTBI). Next, the MTBI hired an army of paid physicians offering its pro-NFL opinions. The League also donated vast sums of money to influential brain research organizations with great guiding power over prestigious medical research, findings, and journals.
Many so-called “experts” saw the MTBI as a piggy bank. The MTBI had a brain injury research foothold over doctors, prestigious U.S. colleges, hospitals, and even scientific journals. It seemed if any doctor disagreed with NFL-paid studies, they were flogged, whipped, and hobbled in the NFL-friendly press and by other NFL-familiar physicians.
But it didn’t seem to matter even with all these paid experts and bounty hunters in the news running defense for the NFL. Trapped by the contracts until they retired, stories of recently escaped NFL players were continually in the news, hi-liting brain injury-related suicides and violence. And these players suffered all these behavioral changes from years of repeated blows to their bodies and heads playing pro ball. The press was still getting worse despite all the NFL-influenced propaganda.
The NFL was unrelenting in its campaign to influence brain injury medicine. An example of the power the NFL had over scientific opinion was proven in 2004. Then, the MTBI, or if you prefer, the NFL, was successful in publishing a “propaganda” piece in the once prestigious scientific journal, Neurosurgery. (aka “Journal of No NFL Concussions“). The NFL’s MTBI insisted that players are evolved supermen who don’t need to worry about concussions.
The NFL’s Mouthpiece, the MTBI, boldly asserted that:
“NFL players have evolved to a state where their brains are less susceptible to injury.”
And to add to this silly tobacco company-like defense, a few months after, MTBI released another doozie, asserting that:
“Players who are concussed and return to the same game have fewer initial signs and symptoms than those removed from play. Return to play does not involve a significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season.” (Source).
We laugh about obviously false statements like that seen above now. But brain injury experts alleged that the NFL had enough money to shackle the opinions of many brain injury doctors. It wasn’t difficult to get people to agree about more research being needed about injuries to its coffle with so much money tossed around. To add insult to injury, the NFL helped sully the contents of a once credible medical journal. Modernly, we know the above statement is pure junk science. But it’s an example of how corporations, not just the NFL, have hijacked science and medicine to sell their services, goods, and political agendas.
Scientists, doctors, journalists, and politicians are not above selling their souls to the NFL player’s masters for a buck. For some, it’s just a question of creating and funding an alter ego of yourself and throwing money around.
But as will be discussed, it got so bad that even the NIH couldn’t accept any more research money from the NFL after its alleged gerrymandering in brain injury medicine became so transparent.
“After years of having its journals, literature, doctors, and scientists being influenced by NFL money, ESPN reported that the NFL, and NIH End Partnership For Concussion Research With $16M Unspent (Source – NPR).” ‘”NIH officials decided months ago to let the agreement expire in August with more than half of the money unused, following a bitter dispute in 2015 in which the NFL backed out of a major study that had been awarded to a researcher who had been critical of the league”‘
The backing out of the disputed study, led by Dr. Robert Stern, a prominent Boston University researcher critical of the NFL, had interesting timing. It just so happened to coincide:
“… with the release this week of a new film, “Concussion,” starring Will Smith, about the NFL’s attempts to silence Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the first case of brain damage in a former NFL player while working as a Pittsburgh coroner in 2005.” (Source). [Emphasis].
“Union of Concerned Scientists (“UCS”) publishes a report that “The NFL Tried to Intimidate Scientists Studying the Link between Pro Football and Traumatic Brain Injury,” writing that: “NFL efforts to suppress scientific evidence of links between football and concussions not only put its own players at risk for memory loss, impulse control problems, and progressive dementia, but also put at risk the thousands of college athletes and more than one million youth athletes who play tackle football, many of whom were completely unaware of the risks.
“A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial or otherwise, and serving one interest could involve working against another.” (Source).
We just saw above how the NFL has an interest in not emasculating the rules of play. They can’t set a precedent for paying out restitution to players after years of brain injury cover-ups and concussions. If Bezos bought a team, he’d likely be paying for those lawsuits.
Any doctor receiving a grant or research money from the MTBI has a severe conflict of interest and is hostile to the truth under California Evidence Code Section 776. A doctor’s interest in getting money to form pro-NFL or even creating inconclusive opinions about whether contact sports have a connection to brain injuries presents a conflict of interest. Because the arrangement works against patients’ interests and the medical community, it is not trustworthy. Patients and physicians need papers and medical opinions based upon truth, not those influenced in some way by NFL “research” money. Hobson went ahead and relied upon Ann McKee, a paid NFL doctor, to form Hobson’s factual assertion that Omalu is a con man.
So what about hit-piece journalism?
“Noun hit piece (plural hit pieces) (idiomatic, journalism) a published article or post aiming to sway public opinion by presenting false or biased information in a way that appears objective and truthful.” (Source).
Journalists have no Hippocratic oath. Ironically, as will be discussed, just after WaPo paid the NFL over 5 million dollars, and WaPo’s owner started talks to purchase an NFL team, WaPo sports journalist Will Hobson (“Hobson”) wrote a hit piece titled:
“From scientist to salesman – How Bennet Omalu, doctor of ‘Concussion’ fame, built a career on distorted science”
WaPo was successful at assassinating Dr. Omalu in the international press. And Hobson’s veiled attempt at journalism has severely swayed public opinion by presenting false and biased information about a doctor who helps NFL players with brain injury lawsuits against the League. In the end, these expose will all be broken down and discussed by a lawyer.
Dr. Bennet Omalu is the man who discovered the disease concept of CTEs [a form of brain injury] in professional football. Hobson is recycling the same tired arguments the NFL made and lost against Omalu 20 or so years ago as NEWS. You saw several of the NFL/MTBIS quotes above about how head injuries are exaggerated, right?
Moreover, the story broke right in the middle of several pending professional and college contact sports lawsuits where Omalu is named as an expert; WaPo factually asserts Dr. Omalu:
“…dramatically overstates the known risks of CTE and contact sports, fueling misconceptions about the disease.”
All of this evidence connecting Hobson to the NFL’s masters makes this racially undertoned story about Omalu more of a media lynching than a news item. Corporate capitalism and football have been attached at the hip ever since experts discovered intercollegiate football games translated into big money and new college enrollments. But as will be discussed, even football was too much for the gladiator culture adopted by “rough rider,” Teddy Roosevelt. But when Americans love blood sports like the UFC and football so much, it didn’t matter to the progeny of the football days of old. Even today, the detriments and thrills inherent in the sport of American football have survived.
I am attorney Michael Ehline. I specialize in personal injuries in my boutique private injury law practice. I have helped many families overcome legal defenses brought by large corporations like the NFL (“defendants”). One central defense raised by coaches, schools, and even martial arts instructors is that my clients had assumed the risk of being maimed or killed while playing sports. However, despite all the commotion, there are exceptions to this so-called doctrine known as the “assumption of the risk.” When I started writing this piece, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
I wanted to update an old piece about the NFL helmet lawsuits I had on my website. So I went back and started clicking Google to find out what has happened lately with all these brain injury lawsuits. Then I came across a WaPo article that I can only describe as a hit piece. It was about a famous brain injury doctor who pioneered research into what would later become synonymous with football, “CTE.” It relied on statements from an NFL-friendly brain injury scientist, who received brain injury research money as part of her practice as a medical expert.
Doctor Bennett Omalu, who received no research grants from the NFL, labeled CTE a football-specific disease because it was prevalent among football players. Finally, the NFL no longer enslaved players with its years of junk science. Now, their families had a champion. It was Omalu, a brain injury specialist, who assisted the families and death victims. Moreover, these were people who the League had told for years that repeated body blows and concussions don’t cause many problems.
And it was the League that caused studies to become published that players were safer than they were. Remember, with influential organizations like the MTBI and over $100 million donated to the medical brain injury research community, the NFL was always able to blame NFL brain injuries on something else. In other words, since there are other causes of CTE than just football, more research needs to be done before the NFL has any court liability to pay its injured football players.
The mantra became, “sure players get hurt,” but “more research is needed,” “Not enough data,” etc. It became all about kicking the can and muddying up the waters. Remember, the NFL was a Non-Profit Company at the time. With the enormous salaries being paid out to the bosses, it’s no wonder things needed to remain the same at the plantation house. Don’t rock the boat. Appease the players by letting them kneel for the National Anthem. Anything but paying out on brain injury claims.
Remember, with its power and monetary influence over the medical community; the NFL was able to get this below propaganda into a medical journal:
After reading a WaPo hit piece about Dr. Omalu, its many inconsistencies, outright untruths, and unverified statements, I recognized right away. This was nothing less than flogging. So I knew there had to be some connection between professional sports, the so-called “journalist,” and WaPo. At the very least, as a trained attorney, I could see the glaring conflict of interest, as will be discussed.
It almost smelled like this journalist was trying to poison a jury against Omalu. I could sense some sort of a ruse. So I started researching big money exchanged between WaPo and the League. I also discovered that Bezos, Amazon, and WaPo’s owner are in discussions to purchase an NFL team. (Source – WaPo).
“And The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos, also reported in November that the billionaire has privately expressed an interest in buying the Seattle Seahawks.” (Source – CNBC).
Bezos is in business to make money. And with all these NFL brain injury lawsuits looming, Bezos could be buying himself into existing NFL player lawsuits. It would be easier to use a powerful news agency to destroy a medical doctor than pay for years of NFL disinformation about brain injuries and football. Also, based upon the money Bezos’ companies pay the NFL and vice versa, propping up the NFL remains key to smart business. Just getting his hand on the NFL’s social media influence could mean many more billions for Bezos.
Wouldn’t it be great if WaPo could resurrect the very same arguments its allies at the NFL used years ago against its players and repackage them as 2020 “journalism?” Would that not help save the NFL money? What if Bezos wanted an NFL team but needed to show the League his fealty? Bezos’ control over the media messaging about NFL brain injury lawsuits would certainly help considerably. Soon he could be a full Lord and not just an ally in part of the NFL kingdom.
“It’s well known that he [Jeff Bezos] wants in and it’s well known that the owners of the other NFL teams wouldn’t mind having him in given that he runs Amazon and it’d be a hell of a lot easier to work out deals for the streaming rights to games if one of the guys that they’re a partner with is also the guy that runs Amazon.” Let’s look at some more business dealings between the NFL and Bezos’ corporations. (Source)
If you think this tidbit is insignificant and that WaPo journalism isn’t mostly fake, then you probably think there is nothing to see here >>
“. . . Washington Post laid out a cool $5.2 million for an ad during the Feb. 3 Super Bowl broadcast.” (Source).
“The NFL is king of advertising, drawing in $1.23B in ad revenue just during the playoffs. Basketball trails behind, with ad revenue of $1.13B for NCAA playoffs and $875M for NBA playoffs. The NFL’s giant ad revenue figures have helped it claim the crown for highest total revenue of any sports league, with yearly earnings over $13B.” (Source).
Do you think a newspaper, after paying the NFL all that money, and getting advertising money as a result of the Superbowl, would allow any truly negative press against the NFL? And would it not be easy to write hit pieces about people the NFL wishes to silence? From a lawyer’s perspective, it appears that Bezos is either protecting the NFL or that he hired news editors and sub-editors at WaPo who don’t fact-check their writers.
After I realized how deeply connected and incredibly biased these two allies are (NFL and WaPo), I realized that someone needs to be watching the watchers.
With regards to WaPo’s Conflict of Interest with Bezos’, Wikipedia says:
“Throughout the early years of ownership, Bezos was accused of having a potential conflict of interest with the paper. Bezos and the newspaper’s editorial board have dismissed accusations that he unfairly controlled the paper’s content and Bezos maintains the paper’s independence.” (Source.)
Despite Bezos’ “editorial board” dismissing allegations of conflict of interest, the evidence points in another direction. Bezos is in discussions to buy into a company that operated as a non-profit, spending millions influencing the brain injury community against NFL players, 70% of whom are black. WaPo just gave the NFL over $5 million. Under the name Nash Holding, WaPo destroyed the doctor’s reputation, representing NFL players with NFL-related brain injuries. And whether or not Bezos controlled that unfair story, Bezos also has a vast ownership interest in another corporation that selectively props up, or buries news, Google. From my perspective, it remains doubtful this story will even make the front page of that search engine.
QUOTE from NFL’s Creation, The MTBI:
“Players who are concussed and return to the same game have fewer initial signs and symptoms than those removed from play. Return to play does not involve a significant risk.”
Notice how it mirrors the WaPo hit-piece in its messaging. Sure, players get hurt, but it’s just an exaggeration by some “Nigerian” doctor—nothing to see here, move along. Below, I will be objective when objectivity is required. But I will also exercise my professional experience, knowledge, and skill as a lawyer to dismantle the WaPo hit-piece by sportswriter William Devine Hobson at the end of this report. Now, we will discuss some of the pertinent histories of injuries in football. Additionally, we will explore whether or not money has driven the sport rather than player safety.
Moreover, we will detail the history of the NFL helmet scandal with a timeline of facts. This information will expose cover-ups, and redirection efforts by the League and its agents, including its army of past and present paid medical experts. Several of these experts were Hobson’s interviewees for his defamatory story.
And it was their negative opinions and Hobson’s selective review of their research adopted as accurate by Hobson. Included will be information about brain injury-related deaths of players. Also, we will expose the potential culpability of the League. Moreover, we will discuss players’ rights and remedies alleging deception and concealment against NCAA or the NFL.
Ever since the first scholastically sanctioned football game took place between Princeton and Rutgers, it was a hit on November 6, 1869. Right away, football was recognized as a sport of speed and brutality. And 150 years ago, American “football” was not as readily distinguishable from European football today. Of particular interest, the first intercollegiate football game in North America was played using a soccer ball, as there was no such thing as a “football.”
Americans call European football “soccer,” whereas Europeans tend to refer to American football as rugby with body armor or bulky padding. Initially, football on U.S. college campuses was sort of a hybrid game, borrowing speed from European soccer and its ball carrying, blocking, and tackling from the game of rugby.
Differences Between Rugby and Australian Rules Football (“ARF”): The main distinguishing factor between U.S. football is that we are allowed to throw and pass our pigskins forward in the direction of the opposition’s goal line. Also, we stop playing after a tackle or when the ball touches the ground. In ARF, the ball remains in play. Distinguishing regular rugby between the Australian game, the forward is not legal in ARF. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is for another day. (Source). Here is a cool infographic detailing the distinctions between all three games.
But if rugby is the Navy of football, then Football indeed is the Marines. In other words, American football is now the undisputed “Men’s Department” of Rugby. Comparatively speaking, Cricket’s UK bat and ball sport morphed into the more challenging, faster-moving game called U.S. baseball.
Nicknames: At some point, football’s team sport in the United States and Canada was nicknamed “gridiron.” Football is also affectionally nicknamed “pigskin” because the first balls were manufactured from pig hides.
Rules: In a nutshell, eleven players face each other on opposing sides on a quadratic playing field. Generally, the game’s object is getting the football across the other side’s goalpost marker by speed or brute force to score points. Whoever has the most issues after the game time overtime expires wins.
Defensive players like linebackers use substantial physical force to tackle the other side’s ball carrier or intercept the football. The excitement is in the violence of how hard the ballcarrier or quarterback is blocked, hit, and tackled by the defensive team, sometimes at very high accelerations and forces. Maneuvers by the offensive team are designed to protect the ball and move it towards the goal post, culminating in a touchdown. With great violence, the defensive team tries to prevent the offensive team from receiving a kick, running a passed ball, or a ball “hand-off.”
Preventing the other side from scoring field goals and touchdowns while scoring the most for your side wins the game. There are also elite special teams and field goal kickers. In time, the game became far more physical, with far more head and neck injuries than Rugby, and why football players here sport such heavy padding.
Most experts sure think so. In many ways, football remains a contest of brutality with rules. Although much has been done to reduce the carnage, deaths, and crushed skulls, most experts agree that American football is probably far more dangerous to players than even the most barbaric form of rugby, Australian Rules Football (“AFL”). Also, studies show that American football is at least as violent or more violent than AFL.
Rugby players suffer more cuts and bruises, but football players get concussions, pierced ribs, broken bones, torn ligaments, and heat-related injuries. American Football is played at much higher speeds than rugby. Also, generally, many of the players are humongous beasts when compared to rugby men. All of this combined results in a far greater battering to the person holding the ball at the time of the oncoming Refrigerator.
Because of this, players tend to get hit or tackled with enormous impact and concussive forces. Sometimes these forces meet or exceed the typical car accident case. But the injuries can be similar. A vehicle crash differs mainly because most drivers don’t get in a high-speed crash every day. But NFL players do get hit almost every time they hit the playing field.
As discussed initially, American football relied on modified European Rugby Union Rules to determine proper, sportsmanlike conduct on the violent playing field. (Source). As the sport evolved, the participating American schools, besides Yale, created the Intercollegiate Football Association (“IFA”) to establish safety, distinctions, and other guidelines even though Yale did not join the IFA until 1879.
Almost right away, there was an inextricable bond between colleges and football. And it didn’t take long before graduates starting forming their semi-pro and even pro teams all over the U.S.A. But injuries mounted, as did reports of some now-banned, barbaric tackling methods.
Yes. It’s true. Despite the new safety and other field rules created, football remained a hazardous sport for the college kids playing the game. For example, by 1905, nineteen players had been killed, and far more had suffered severe spine and head injuries. Because of this, President Theodore Roosevelt intervened and threatened to abolish football. As a result, the colleges established a new governing body, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States. (“IAAUS”).
The acronym was later changed to the NCAA or National Collegiate Athletic Association. There are strong ties between the NFL and the NCAA. In my opinion, like the MTBI, I see little difference between the two. They have the veneer of being different from a legalistic standpoint. NFL rules, training methods, and culture are very similar. Both organizations have mutual as well as similar self-interests in promoting the sport. Both parties have an interest in burying stories about football injuries and death.
After all, one U.S. president already threatened to ban the sport. Many upset mothers may try and steer the next Jerry Rice into a less violent career. Why all of this is important concerning brain injuries and lawsuits will be discussed further down.
Because college football became so popular with fans, today’s organization, as National Football League (“NFL”), was formed as a professional football league in 1920. With the NFL came uniform, safer rules for competing teams and franchisees, without completely emasculating football.
The battle to balance player injuries with the need for profits, huge salaries, and college tuitions, ticket and souvenir sales, for example, has long been a significant factor in the game. Most large universities and colleges have their football teams, which significantly enhances their prestige and recruitment. Moreover, alma mater donations and grants from players going on to play in the NFL are common. In a way, for colleges, the NFL is the gift that keeps on giving.
Football is an ecosystem unto itself. Often top pro athletes will have auditoriums and football fields named after them by the college trustees, many of whom were former pro or college ballplayers themselves. Also, many of the best coaches in high school and college ball go on to lead and mentor professional teams at the NFL. There is a top-down culture, and the NFL’s fingerprints are all over it.
Modernly, large commercial sponsorships are paid to even low-level players from Nike, Adidas, etc. Contracts to players, beer, sales or trademarked apparel, etc., would likely be curtailed if the game became less violent or aggressive. On the one hand, players who are also employees of the NFL have assumed the risk of injuries inherent in the game of football. On the other hand, if the League concealed or brushed off studies linking brain injuries to the sport, that would be another thing entirely.
Schools with football teams are a gladiatorial training ground of sorts for would-be professional players. So school teams use modified NFL rules. But the campus’ sport is nonetheless dangerous to many developing young athletes. It is a pro ball, given that most retired players have wrong, lifelong knee, ankle, and joint injuries. That’s a given, and that’s why players wear padding. Most of all, there is a lot of money at stake, and many young players will turn a blind eye to NFL and college safety risks, or violations, for a chance at cash and glory. If you want to play ball, you’ll have to play ball, or you won’t even get drafted into the League.
Watching some of the coverage of Traumatic Brain Injuries related to the NFL, you may believe it is only a problem in professional sports. That is wrong. Instead, such brain injuries are linked to every single level of playing football, from junior high school to colleges and high-end universities. There are players as low as peewee football facing severe brain issues due to repeated concussions on the playing field. Whether kids are playing for the NFL or a local high school or college team, the risk presents a series of dangerous realities for families.
As discussed, doctors and coaches have known about the dangers of repeated concussions since Teddy Roosevelt’s days. Besides professional boxers, head injuries remain common in the NFL when compared to most other sports. Moreover, this type of concussive head injury is so prevalent in the League that it has led to calls for safer rules and safer helmets. As discussed, some CTE symptoms and others are commonly found in boxers and MMA fighters. But many tops and low-level NFL players are victims of a brain injury unique to their type of contact sport. Dr. Omalu is credited with the discovery of the relationship with this disease concept to football.
Before Dr. Omalu’s autopsy of NFL player Mike Webster discussed more below, permanent brain damage in sports was described only in boxers as Punch Drunk Syndrome or Dementia Pugilistica. It was only after the Mike Webster autopsy in 2002, which was published in 2005, that this disease was expanded and called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”). CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma.
CTE is noticed as an accumulation of abnormal or defective formations of tau proteins in the brain. Tau is a normal brain protein that helps stabilize the central nervous system. However, too much tau clumps into shapes called tangles. An abnormal tau reading is often a marker for diseases like Dementia, Alzheimer’s, or CTE. Scientists believe repeated head trauma can cause this degenerative disease of the brain. The science changed and expanded, and doctors began to understand better the pathology of brain damage in and out of sports. We learned that all types of brain trauma outside of boxing also exist.
And Dr. Omalu discovered that repeated body, head jarring, rattling, and impacts can result in permanent and progressive brain damage. But CTE is not the only type of permanent brain damage that can follow all kinds of brain trauma. What Omalu proved is that there many other types of permanent brain damage that can follow brain trauma. His findings are that CTE is just one speck in the broad spectrum of diseases that follow traumatic brain injury. And in this case, CTE, a pre-existing medical term, was resurrected to become the disease concept most related to football-related head trauma.
CTE symptoms include depression, aggression, and disorientation. But NFL paid scientists to claim you cannot definitively diagnose CTE. Nor can they determine its severity until a post-death autopsy. But still, parents or wives may notice symptoms like personality changes and bizarre cognitive issues over time. Besides that, these repeated tackles can result in horrific head, neck, and spine injures and even early death or wrongful suicide. It’s easy to see how these players, who get destroyed for a living, could have mood swings and other brain-related problems.
Repeated tackles and hits to players, over and over again, are not what human bodies are built to endure. Years of concussions and being tackled seem to be the rule and not the exception for this massive contact sport. For example, the brain is akin to a raw egg in its shell but with a powerful computer hard drive inside. Eventually, the hard drive will become damaged if you drop a laptop enough, possibly beyond repair. Similarly, the brain is like a computer. If you impact the brain’s housing and sufficient matter, the brain injury victim will eventually develop a severe closed head injury or other malaise. Accompanying any brain injuries will be symptoms like forgetfulness, and even seizures, for example.
Although many players exhibit signs of severe harm to cognitive functions after repeated blows, some players don’t have immediate symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms can take weeks, months, or years to appear. Then there is also the League’s propaganda saying everything is fine. So what happens when there are injuries that the league says are not a risk inherent in the League’s form of football. Or what if the coach insinuates players are as safe as possible when they aren’t? What happens then? Many of us remember the suicide of Jr. Seau and the NFL helmet scandal.
Ultimately, it was decided that the NFL had been less than honest about helmet safety and brain injuries. And they were held to account by more than just personal injury victims. In that case, players were said not to have assumed the risk of severe TBIs. Because of this, they could make work comp-type claims and even sued the League. Let’s discuss how that came about. But first, let’s start with a proposition. I propose that if the NFL can create player face shields to fight COVID-19‘s spread on the playing field, they can provide safer playing rules and better head protection for players without so many head injuries.
For one, medical studies on football should not be riddled with the “opinions” of NFL-influenced and paid experts. I propose that redirecting the narrative with a new helmet that creates unique and different safety concerns for players is folly. Moreover, players and the public deserve to know what the NFL knows about CTE, not the whitewashed version it has so meticulously advanced through its facemen.
You just saw above that the League’s surrogate said players had evolved to the point where concussions don’t matter, etc. Let’s look at what the League knew when they asserted that superior NFL heads don’t need to worry about concussions. In the last several years, allegations have surfaced that the NFL sat on studies and evidence that could have prevented concussions. Moreover, this evidence could have protected players from making their brain injuries worse.
Boomers and Gen Xers will remember the Marlboro Man on freeway signs and billboards. Back then, cigarettes were marketed as if they could make you healthy. Like the tobacco companies covered up cancer risks, it is alleged that the NFL covered up data about brain injury risks. At one point, we must remember like big tobacco claimed smoking was healthy (Attorney Michale Piuze proved with evidence like internal memos that Philip Morris knew tobacco killed people).
Also, just like big tobacco, the NFL’s paid for doctors argued that it was good for players with concussions to get out there and play! Isn’t that was they said? I mean, unlike WaPos accusatory and citation-free hit-piece, this story has legs! Instead of pointing to the Marlboro man, the NFL and its allies at WaPo pointed to their partners in the medical field and all the “scientific” studies they helped fund.
Also, proof exists that the NFL regularly allowed players with head injuries to continue playing even though concussions had not healed. But once the light had been cast, like cigarettes, it turned out their approved helmets, and other statements about superior NFL brains were not all they were cracked up to be either. The NFL had more than just similar legal arguments to big tobacco; it also has ties to the tobacco industry’s legal defense. (Source).
To be fair, since all this information started going public,
“The NFL has made47 rule changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions and strengthen the league’s medical protocols. The NFL deploys 29 medical professionals on the sidelines for each game. Working with the NFL Players Association, the league enforces a concussion protocol for players that has been instrumental in immediately identifying and diagnosing concussions and other head-related injuries.” (Source).
As chronicled below, once these brain injury risks became public knowledge, many past and present players and lawyers for the player’s union became enraged. Someone smelled a rat. These victims argued that the NFL placed profits over players. As noted above, coaches put injured, star players out on the field. Your brain has “evolved.”
So it appears that teams placed players at risk by remaining silent about the dangers and instead how great it was to be a pro with an evolved brain. Rule changes and having NFL paid doctors hanging around the playing fields did not address the brain injury problem. After all, even the uninjured players thought their Riddell helmets offered more than enough protection for their brains. Why?
Because the NFL and Ridell allegedly promoted these helmets as safe for risks presented on the field. At the same time, the helmet maker and the NFL reportedly failed to warn the players these helmets did not decrease or prevent the injuries these helmets were designed to avoid. Because of this failure to warn, these players could not have assumed these particular risks.
Also, these wounded players were defrauded if the facts are real. After all, these were risks the players were specifically told did not even exist. But, because players were told there was no risk or reduced risk, they continued playing the game. And this blind faith culture has reverberated down through all public and private football teams, no matter how old the players, large or small. Let’s learn more below.
Big media and woke football teams kneeling for the U.S. National Anthem seemed to sweep it all under the rug. Besides, most so-called journalists seemed more intrigued by Colin Kapernick, Nike, and Trump, distracting from this topic. Damn the torpedos. Fans wanted violence, hot dogs, and to purchase their favorite team’s jersey. A little propaganda and a new, safer helmet, and the serf are appeased. Just keep the bread, circuses, and profits coming.
But to the players, their parents, and others who understand the dangers existing in powerful entities like the NFL, this represents an argument in favor of individual rights over widespread influence and opinions. So let’s get into the guts of the discussion and find out what just happened here.
Although he was writing about his discoveries back in the 2000s, only Dr. Bennet Omalu and a few brain-injured/dead player’s wives seemed to care. But steam built up over time with the deaths and sporadic stories about many key NFL players. Omalu seemed to have fueled an unstoppable freight-train of NFL and other contact sports embarrassment.
And as I rightly assumed, presently, Dr. Omalu is a designated expert witness for injured victims in several pending cases involving contact sports like the NCAA, professional wrestling, and pro-Hockey. These corporations would love nothing more than to hurt Omalu’s credibility before any jury deciding a case against the professional sports industrial complex.
And anyone thinking about purchasing an NFL team, who also pays the NFL handsomely for advertising [WaPo], has an interest in shutting Dr. Omalu DOWN! Below, we will discuss the events that have taken place until now concerning the NFL and contact sports. We will include a factual timeline. And we will also cover how this lone doctor made history by holding the privileged, once not for profit, NFL accountable. He was able to do this despite the NFL’s propaganda machine, vast resources in the congress, senate, and unlimited money for “opinions” of scientists, journalists, and other shills.
Also discussed is the explicit attack nature of this hit piece. Moreover, we will explore why the article used statements of experts who have received money or spoken as experts on behalf of the NFL. Next, we will explore whether the Washington Post, a major advertiser with the NFL, was fair or honest with its so-called “reporting.” Most of all, we learned that the NFL seemed to know all along what Dr. Omalu knew about brain injuries and their prevalence with players. But the NFL ran defense when the story broke. After all, the NFL had sat on life-saving information for years. At least, that is what appears to have happened here, as will be detailed below.
What may be going on here is that some compelling people may be driven in whole or in part by racism and white supremacy. Perhaps they want to erase the excellent and disruptive work of a black man from Nigeria. Maybe these people want to remove it from the historical narrative of brain damage in sports? Remember, this stuff that Hobson is bringing up happened over 20 years ago. It was debated on the pages of scientific journals. Omalu prevailed, yet 20 years later, they took it to the pages of an NFL-friendly newspaper and tainted their alternative narratives with what appears to be dishonest, and religious, and racially charged falsehoods.
During the first stages, CTE symptoms may seem minor or insignificant. Perhaps the patient will become occasionally disoriented, or maybe he’ll notice some headaches once in a while. However, as this degenerative condition progresses, CTE can cause memory loss, vertigo, tremors, erratic behavior, poor judgment, dementia, and depression. In the case of some players, CTE thoughts of suicide and other reckless behavior. For example, pro ball players and many pro fighters have two things: CTEs and domestic violence.
Some afflicted football players went on to live full lives with only minor CTE symptoms, to be fair. Like a U.S. Marine assumes the risk of being disabled after being blown up in combat, players also assume risks inherent in their gladiator-like profession. And players assume some risks, like concussions, in the game of football.
But here we have a case where the League and their helmet maker averred many dangers in the sport were reduced. However, the League and its agents knew otherwise. And in the meantime, others who were tackled by this type of brain infection became so angry or so depressed that they took their lives.
Even though the League has doctors on the field, players with head injuries were allowed and encouraged to continue playing. Many injured players wanted to go back out and play since the NFL machine represented there was little to no risk of further illness after getting K/O’d. Ultimately, popular opinion turned a few news networks against the NFL. Something had to be done. But What?
When NFL players retire and go on to become sportscasters, restauranters, domestic violators, or fade away into obscurity, that is their own business. But as their CTE progresses, and it will, doctors may point back to the CTE as the cause of many personal problems since retiring from playing pro ball. As the below timeline suggests, it looks like the NFL ran interference to prevent Dr. Bennet Omalu from scoring a touchdown for the players.
In the end, the NFL was flagged for passing interference of sorts. Remarkably, right in the middle of significant brain injury litigation against the NFL, it appears the NFL deployed their “special teams.” A major NFL advertiser, the Washington Post, has published an incredibly biased hit piece designed to discredit Omalu, discussed below. This will have the effect of poisoning many potential jurors against the top brain injury expert for the players suing the NFL. Let’s look at some more NFL brain injury history and see how it all went down.
Yes, medical science is rapidly growing to understand the severe risk that a Traumatic Brain Injury represents. Above we addressed the history of the NFL and brain injury cover-ups. Now we will examine brain injuries in our society in football and their impact on brain injury victims. Any series of brain injuries can lead to severe long-term consequences, including cognitive impairment, personality changes, and even paralysis. Each one is a severe threat that requires close attention from all members of society. We are all impacted by healthcare costs and the irrational things many dysfunctional patients might unleash on the rest of us.
That is why activists named January Winter Sports “TBI Awareness Month.” Considering the higher risk for such injuries during high contact sports, it is only fitting. Of course, when we think of sports TBIs, we tend to think of football. All the while, the NFL will be gearing up for the playoffs and the Super Bowl. That creates a perfect time to bring up the potential risk of a severe brain injury from football.
Brain injuries are so devastating that each January in the U.S., we recognize TBI Awareness Month. Sadly, many high school and college football leagues have not paid enough attention to the subject. High schools cannot afford to have doctors at every single game for every available team. Instead, many issues revolving around brain injuries are papered over and not addressed adequately at the time. This is especially dangerous for young players whose brains are still developing. Most of all, this can lead to unexpected long-term issues later in life and brain development.
An essential aspect in cases such as this is whether a waiver was signed. If signed by the parents or supervising adults, a problem arises. And these waivers have been historically upheld by courts. Many have helped stop suits in tort.
But in other cases, California courts have found that engaging in a sport where the injury is an inherent factor means you cannot sue! That is why boxers cannot sue each other, for example, if they are sparring or in a sanctioned fight.
Gun wounds at a pistol match couldn’t even be a reasonable risk associated with target shooting. However, a ricochet is a risk often associated with shooting steel targets, for example. So this, in some cases, renders a lawsuit impractical unless an exception applies. Last, this later applies based upon a unique set of facts of the case.
This assumption means that new lawsuits for these types of injuries may face disbarment as a matter of law. Or they can be substantially harder under the Knight v. Jewett line of cases. I am an expert in these types of cases.
I believe that many PI lawyers will be hesitant to bring lawsuits for minor head blow type injuries of children who play soccer or football, for example. At least in California, this probably holds, or unless there is an exception that applies. There would need to be other circumstances present that would render Knight, supra, inapplicable to the case.
We know that in football cases, the League allegedly hid data about the helmets’ overall effectiveness. The old head protection the players wore at the time was less protective than the NFL implied. In this case, it was the cover-up.
After all, the Knight test indeed would find that brain injuries are an inherent risk in football. Of course, some would argue a “foul play” exceeds an intrinsic risk. Courts have located on more than one occasion that being tackled and hurt remains part of the sport. Of course, flag football and non-contact sports won’t carry these same inherent risks.
Furthermore, other winter sports offer the potential threat of traumatic brain injury, including skiing and snowboarding. But due to the sporadic nature of many people’s skiing, the chances of them getting severe treatment after a single fall or collision is low. Moreover, many people think that they can just “walk-off” a severe blow leading to a concussion. All of these factors added together are trouble for athletes and non-athletes. Kids model themselves after their favorite teams.
So it makes sense that the hero league would set a better example when it comes to avoiding head injuries. But many schools are more concerned about recruitment and winning, just like the NFL. Even with a brain injury awareness month, past and present players remain hesitant to reveal their brain injury stories. We hope this article will encourage players to get the professional help they need despite the macho culture associated with the NFL.
In addition to wrenched spinal cords and other gruesome injuries while running with the pigskin, it is the concussion that can ruin a man’s life. Below are some of the facts.
The available reports indicate that in:
Growing concern has mounted about football and concussions since the early 1900s as follows:
To help answer that question, we’ve created a dual chronology, with growing scientific concern about the link between football and brain disease on the left-hand column and the NFL’s public statements on the right. Click on a year to learn more.
1904 – Eighteen football players die while playing non-professional football.
1906 – After a Harvard student-athlete passed away from a football head injury, team doctors publish: “The Physical Aspect of American Football” in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. In the report, a discussion was had covering the injury type and severity. It also discussed other injuries to Harvard players during the 1905 season.
1906-1994 – Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to deal with this. But we can say with certainty, almost all of the research listed on the first page of Google about the history of injuries, etc., are from NIH, or BU, all organizations which in some way have been influenced by NFL funding, as will be discussed below. Also, a slew of early retirements occurred due to NFL head injuries during this period. We will start with a three-time Superbowl champ and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman for brevity’s sake.
January 1993 – During a 1993 season NFC Championship game, Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback, Troy Aikman, gets rocked with a stiff knee to the head, suffering a severe concussion.
After leaving the hospital, Aikman told a journalist:
“I didn’t know what planet I was on. I still to this day have no recollection of ever having played in that game. So whenever I see footage of that game, it’s like somebody else is out there doing it.” Aikman’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, visited Aikman in the hospital that night and recalled the story that way to FRONTLINE.
January 10, 1994 – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported a statistically significant increase in the risk of neurological disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in retired football players, which furthered public knowledge about the risk of long-term neurocognitive disease related to repeated head impacts. (Source).
1994 – NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue creates NFL’s doing business as the “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee” (“MTBI”). Dr. Elliot Pellman, a rheumatologist with zero background as an expert in brain injury care or research, is appointed MTBI chair despite the protestations of many in the neurologist and neuropsychological community. (Source). Because Pellman regularly agreed he knew little about head injuries, he appeared the perfect man for the job. Despite the above 1994 NIOSH study, Pellman and the MTBI Committee disagreed with the other experts regarding NFL helmet safety standards. Most of the scientific community felt the Riddel helmets were insufficient to minimize the concussion risks. (Source). Instead, the MTBI Committee created its very own, NFL-friendly, biomechanical analysis of the effect of concussive and impact forces on the brain. (Source). MTBI began publishing its biased results in 2003. MTBI boldly asserted there were “no long-term negative health consequences associated with concussions sustained by NFL players.” Another six-year study claimed that: “Players who are concussed and return to the same game have fewer initial signs and symptoms than those removed from play. Return to play does not involve a significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season.” (Source).
October 1994 – Merrill Hoge retires due to concussions. Two weeks earlier, the Chicago Bears fullback “took a knee to the head, leaving him briefly unable to recognize his wife or brother.” (Source)
December 1994 – NFL Commissioner Tagliabue describes complaints about concussions as a “pack journalism issue” to a future sports panel, asserting:
“On concussions, I think is one of these pack journalism issues, frankly… There is no increase in concussions, the number is relatively small… The problem is a journalist issue.“
February 1995 – Leigh Steinberg, agent to Troy Aikman and Steve Young, both star quarterbacks, holds a seminar in Newport Beach, California, discussing the effects of concussions. At that time, San Diego Charger Gary Plummer told a Press-Enterprise reporter: “By their standards, I must’ve had 200 concussions.”
March 1997 – The American Academy of Neurology (“AAN”) calls for significantly improved return to play guidelines, claiming: “repetitive concussions can cause brain damage.” Their solution is to remove injured players from the game if they lose consciousness or have concussion symptoms for at least 15 minutes post-injury. AAN’s report also concluded that “Repeated concussions can cause cumulative brain injury in an individual over months or years.”
April 1999 – Pro NFL ballplayer, Mike Webster, claims pro football gave him dementia after years of cognitive problems. Because of this, Mike Webster filed a disability application with the NFL Retirement Board.
September 1999 – Steve Young of the 49ers gets knocked out cold for 30 seconds while playing against the Arizona Cardinals. That was Young’s final NFL game.
October 1999 – The NFL Retirement Board decides Mike Webster is permanently disabled and conceals the public’s information. Their findings made apparent Webster’s disability was from years of head injuries while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs. Although the ruling is kept secret by the NFL, a Frontline/ESPN investigative report exposed the board’s findings years later. Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada are real reporters who looked at their sources’ background without asking leading questions based upon facts that don’t exist.
Webster’s then-attorney, Bob Fitzsimmons, correctly asserted that the ruling proved the League knew or should have known about the apparent link between football and brain damage.
“It’s pretty devastating evidence,” said attorney Fitzsimmons. “If the NFL takes the position that they didn’t know or weren’t armed with evidence that concussions can cause a total disability — permanent disability, permanent brain injury — in 1999, that evidence trumps anything they say.”
December 1999- MTBI chair Dr. Pellman reasserts that serious brain injuries remain rare in the NFL, telling The Chicago Tribune that the NFL’s alter ego, the MTBI, has found brain injuries in football are uncommon and relatively minor.
The Tribune was told by pundits after four years of tracking player head injuries closely, numbers have remained “remarkably the same” in the NFL. Pellman claimed 180 “incidents per year of mild traumatic brain injury.” “We’re talking the majority are minor injuries,” according to Pellman.
May 2000 – Research shows NFL concussions remain connected with neurological problems. Although their study was only based upon surveys, Dr. Barry Jordan and Dr. Julian Baile’s results were sufficiently startling to alert AAN. Also, the magazine Science Daily summarized the report as follows: “The group of players with one or more concussions had significantly more neurological symptoms than those who did not. Problems included memory loss, problems losing concentration, confusion, slurred or incomprehensible speech, and hearing problems. Also reported were problems with numbness and tingling of the “extremities, and headaches.”
May 2000 – MTBI (aka NFL) members criticize the American Academy of Neurology’s 1997 return-to-play guidelines. The New York Times reports that MTBI committee members, along with many NFL doctors, cited “lack of research to support them.” See the theme? Nothing to see here. We need more research, so continue the status quo ante.
“We don’t know whether being knocked out briefly is any more dangerous than having amnesia and not being knocked out,” committee member and neurologist Dr. Mark R. Lovell tells the Times: ”We see people all the time that get knocked out briefly and have no symptoms,” he added. ”Others get elbowed, go back to the bench and say, ‘Where am I?’”
September 2000 – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tells ESPN that Aikman should ignore concussion concerns if it’s a key game “since all data we have so far don’t point to lasting effects, long-term effects from the head trauma.”
April 2001 – Troy Aikman retires, citing his concussions and back problems.
2002 – Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and co-founder of the Brain Injury Research Institute, identifies CTE in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, 50, who committed suicide. Dr. Omalu is considered a fugitive from NFL-influenced brain science. To the NFL, Dr. Omalu remains an abolitionist carpetbagger messing with their business model.
2002 – In response to Dr. Omalu’s findings, the NFL’s alter ego, the MTBI, published its own “research” in the Journal of Neurosurgery. Noteworthy here, the editor in chief of “Neorusurgery” had consulted for the New York Giants. So another conflict of interest similar to the Hobson/WaPo/NFL connection that heavily downplayed concussions in the NFL was glaring for all the world’s view. Reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru wrote in their blockbuster “League of Denial” that:
“The league used that journal, which some researchers would come to ridicule as the ‘Journal of No NFL Concussions,’ to publish an unprecedented series of papers, several of which were rejected by peer reviewers and editors and later disavowed even by some of their authors.” And below, you can look at the 2016 New York Times study that determined most, if not all of the NFL’s concussion propaganda was “significantly,” “likely knowingly—flawed.”
November 2, 2003 – MTBI chair, Rheumatologist Pellman, sends a knocked-out player back into the game. ‘”This is very important for your career.” Then Pellman asks, “Are you okay?” When Chrebet replies, “I’m fine,” Pellman sends him back in.”‘ (Source).
2003 – The Center for the Study of Retired Athletes at the University of North Carolina (“UNC-CSRA”) finds a connection between multiple concussions and depression with NFL players. And their follow-up study in 2005 found an association between brain impairment and Alzheimer’s disease among many retired NFL players with a history of concussions.
2004 – Doctor Don Brady concludes: Many NFL players lacked “accurate and essential knowledge” about concussions.
January 2005 – Dr. Omalu publishes his initial medical paper on deceased NFL player Webster in 2005. To many, Dr. Omalu remains the physician’s embodiment of a modern-day Nate Turner with a medical license. It was Omalu who led the rebellion against the NFL’s monetary influence over medicine. Omalu helped expose the NFL brain injury scandal, leading to so many repressed players filing lawsuits. To players and their wives, Dr. Omalu was a Frederick Douglass-like conductor leading the underground railroad of natural medicine. Conductor Omalu guided and escorted the brain injury research community away from NFL influence. And in the process, Dr. Omalu also helped emancipate NFL players and families from the NFL’s legal defenses of “assumption of the risk” and other silly arguments. After all, Omalue by being the first physician to identify CTE in American football players. You can bet the NFL and its friend in the media would love nothing than to sack Dr. Omalu.
January 2005 – The NFL’s own MTBI finds that getting back into the game after sustaining a concussion:
“does not involve significant risk of a second injury either in the same game or during the season.”
June 7, 2005 – Terry Luther Long is recognized as the first known pro ball player with CTE to take his own life. He passed away after drinking antifreeze. Dr. Omalu identified CTE in the brains of him and Andre Waters, discussed below. Both had taken their own lives.
November 20, 2006 – Waters inexplicably shot himself in the head. After Dr. Omalu found out that although only 44-year-old, his brain looked more like the brain of a 90-year-old with Alzheimer’s disease.
February 2007 – The NFL’s paid expert, Dr. Pellman, is forced to abandon his post as MTBI chair. But Pellman remains a mighty MTBI committee member.
June 2007 – The NFL holds its medical conference dealing with NFL-related concussions.
August 14, 2007 – The NFL announces new concussion guidelines with a hotline for players to rat out coaches and managers if a player is forced to play “contrary to medical advice.”
January 21, 2009 – Shane Dronett, a former defensive lineman with the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons, demonstrated extreme paranoia coupled with unexplained rage and fear. And even after having his benign brain tumor removed, he ended up shooting himself dead. Later, Boston University’s School of Medicine’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy discovered he too suffered from CTE.
September 2009 – The New York Times exposes that NFL-funded knew its players were 19 times more likely than non-pro balls players to get dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other “memory-related diseases.” Greg Aiello, the NFL’s propaganda minister, stated that: “the study did not formally diagnose dementia” and that it was subject to shortcomings because of the nature of the “telephone surveys.” But two months later, Aiello reversed himself, telling New York Times reporter Alan Schwarz that “it’s quite obvious from the medical research that’s been done that concussions can lead to long-term problems.” This is recognized as the first time an NFL mouthpiece publicly acknowledged what most researchers already knew. Also, an anonymous source exposed that for years, NFL Retirement Board had awarded: “disability payments to at least three former players after concluding that football caused their crippling brain injuries – even as the league’s top medical experts for years consistently denied any link between the sport and long-term brain damage.” (Source). And one of those players was Mike Webster. The evidence showed that three years after he died, the NFL paid his family $1.8 million due to his long-term brain damage, failing to disclose this information to the public. As noted above, “That same year,” “the NFL published the 10th installment in its series on concussions research in the medical journal Neurosurgery that: “…chronic brain injury has never been reported in American football players.” (Source).
October 28, 2009 – House Judiciary Committee begins Part I of its hearings regarding football head injuries and legal issues. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells the committee the League’s policy regarding concussions is excellent.
December 17, 2009 – Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals passes away after playing a mere five seasons at 26. He, too, suffered from football-related CTE.
January 4, 2010 – Part II of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearings on “Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries” begins. Remarkably, Dr. Ira Casson, an MTBI chairman, denies there is a “link between repeat head impacts and long-term brain damage.”
March 2010 – The NFL’s MTBI changes its sullied name to the Head, Neck, and Spine Committee. Dr. Pellman is finally removed from the panel.
October 20, 2010 – NFL Commissioner Goodell distributes team memos to all 32 NFL teams. He warned them of suspensions for violating: “playing rules that unreasonably put the safety of another player in jeopardy have no place in the game, and that is especially true in the case of hits to the head and neck.”
October 14, 2011 – Lawsuit is filed in California state court, alleging the NFL and Riddell hid the long-term neurological effects of head injuries in professional football.
February 17, 2011 – Dave Duerson, formerly a defensive back with the Chicago Bears, kills himself at 50. Noteworthy is that he shot himself in the chest, so his brain could be tested for CTE. CTE was found in Duerson’s mind.
April 2011 – A lawsuit is filed on behalf of Ray Easterling, Jim McMahon, and five other federal court players. Because thousands of former NFL players also filed concussion lawsuits against the NFL, it became what is known as multidistrict litigation (MDL). Afterward, the cases are titled: “In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation (MDL 2323).”
2012 – The Southeastern Conference and Big Ten Conference appoints the University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones to evaluate and review existing research and various diagnoses from past analyses regarding concussion and return to play. The panel recommends that athletes be sidelined after sustaining a head or concussion-related injury until after being cleared by a physician.
January 31, 2012 – Judge Anita B. Brody of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is appointed to preside over: “In re National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation (MDL 2323).”
April 19, 2012 – Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling takes his life at 62. After his autopsy, it is discovered that he, too, had signs of CTE. Easterling was also listed as a plaintiff in an NFL class-action concussion lawsuit since August 2011. His wife has taken up the mantle for brain injury honesty against the NFL.
May 2, 2012 – Junior Seau shoots and kills himself with a gunshot to his chest at 43. However, an initial autopsy seemingly showed no brain damage. But later, it is revealed that “Seau did suffer from CTE.”
June 7, 2012 – 80 more concussion-related lawsuits by more than 2,000 National Football League players are joined into Multi-District Litigation Case No. 2323. The cases allege that the NFL “… was aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries virtually at the inception, but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information from the Plaintiffs and all others who participated in organized football at all levels.”
August 30, 2012 – The NFL’s injury defense attorneys make a futile effort to dismiss the concussion-related lawsuits above.
August 2012 – The NFL funds a new youth concussion awareness initiative to promote safety and head injury awareness in youth football.
September 5, 2012 – The NIH admits that the NFL is donating NIH $30 million to brain injury research and health-related issues to help understand these conditions in athletes.
November 2012 – Dr. Ann McKee, Journalist Hobson’s key character assassination witness in his WaPo hit-piece, presents research at a sports conference. Dr. McKee presented her CTE findings in 33 of the 34 brains of former football players that she examined. Dr. McKee faces sharp criticism surrounding her failure to find a causal relationship between football and CTE.
“I think to be truthful, even a selection bias in an autopsy sample, even if the family of an individual who is affected is much more likely to donate their brain, than a person who has no symptoms whatsoever,” she said, “given that, we have still been just ridiculously successful in getting examples of this disease.” – Dr. McKee.
November 2012 – NFL Commissioner Goodell speaks about concussions and player safety at the Harvard School of Public Health. He claims the League is making the game safer and alleges that the long-term impact of concussions needs to be studied more, stating:
“In recent years, there has been a much sharper focus on concussions in football and other sports. There are still unanswered questions, but scientists and doctors know more about concussions and their long-term potential effects than they did even a few years ago. The key issue for us is how we use this new understanding to make the game even safer and more exciting in the future.”
January 2013 – National Football PLayer’s Association (“NFLPA”), aka NFL, funds a $100 million Harvard Medical School research initiative into the health problems that affect current and former football players. The initiative’s focus was extensive, including heart problems, joint and skeletal injuries, and head trauma.
January 10, 2013 – The NIH (funded by $100 million in NFL seed money) releases their study of Junior Seau’s brain tissue. However, the NIH confirms that Seau had CTE, NIH doctors attempt to cast doubt on the ‘s CTE. In origins other words, sure, it’s terrible, but we just can’t say it was football that caused his CTE. It’s probably slightly exaggerated. Sound familiar?
January 23, 2013 – Junior Seau’s family files its wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL. In their case, the family claimed that Seau’s suicide resulted from a brain disease caused by violent hits he endured while playing the game. It is reported that Dr. Omalu participated in Seau’s brain autopsy.
April 2013 – Former Players call NFL actions a “sham,” and hearings take place on lawsuits filed by over 1/3 of retired NFL players alleging fraudulent concealment by the League should be litigated. Lawyers for players assert the League profited from “glorifying violence.” The player’s lawyers also argue that the NFL “set up a sham committee” to “spread misinformation” about neurological risks inherent in football.
April 2013 – Of course, the League immediately denied withholding any data claiming: “We strongly deny those allegations that we withheld any information or misled the players.” (LOL)
August 29, 2013 – NFL and former players reach a tentative deal in their class-action lawsuit against the League. The terms include $765 million to fund future medical exams, medical research, and compensatory damages to the ex-players and their families. However, the settlement is sidelined, awaiting the judge’s approval because of more than 4,500 plaintiffs.
December 3, 2013 – Another five ex-NFL players sue. These suits are against the Kansas City Chiefs. Former players Alexander Cooper, Leonard Griffin, Christopher Martin, Joe Phillips, and Kevin Porter are the plaintiffs who alleged that the Chiefs knew about concussions and their dangers but covered in up.
December 13, 2013 – Former NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher’s body is exhumed. An autopsy of his brain reveals CTE.
January 14, 2014 – The federal judge overseeing the NFL’s consolidated lawsuits refuses to approve the proposed $760 million settlement of concussion claims, saying she didn’t think it would be enough money to fairly compensate the players.
May 28, 2014 – Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and 14 additional ex-NFL players file NFL concussion lawsuits.
June 3, 2014 – Remarkably, news reports surface that Marino later withdrew his name from the suit.
July 7, 2014 – The federal judge overseeing the NFL’s consolidated lawsuits in Philadelphia grants preliminary approval to a settlement player v. NFL settlement.
July 17, 2014 – Two more former NFL players, Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks, file their lawsuits against the NFL’s Players Association. But these players also assert that the players union withheld vita; information about NFL head injuries.
September 30, 2014 – Dr. Piotr Kozlowski’s report on former NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher is released. The paper clarifies that Belcher likely had CTE when he murdered his girlfriend and shot himself back in 2012.
February 2015 – The FDA calls Gary Small and colleagues to the carpet for “overzealous commercialization” and “promotion” of “clinically unproven screening” This questioning by The FDA follows complaints by peer researchers. The research is removed from Small and the company’s website. (Source 1 and 2).
March 31, 2015 – NFL-funded NIH invited 39 scientists, NFL representatives, clinicians, and National Hockey League, United States Olympic Committee, to the Sports and Health Research Program (“SHRP”) Stakeholders Board Meeting. According to sources, Dr. Omalu was not invited.
April 22, 2015 – The federal judge overseeing the consolidated cases gives final approval to the class-action lawsuit against the NFL, which pays up to $5 million per retired player for concussions and other repeated head injuries.
November 25, 2015 – Frank Gifford’s family comes forward, claiming Gifford also suffered from CTE. The revelation came hours after the NFL admitted its concussion protocols failed after sending St. Louis Rams quarterback Case Keenum back into the game after his head injury.
September 2015 – Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University proclaim CTE was found in 96% of NFL players examined. They also assert that at least 79% of all football players are affected by CTE. (Source).
December 22, 2015 – Doctor Omalu explained to CNN why he selected the existing Latin medical acronym CTE instead of Dementia Pugilista to describe brain injuries related explicitly to football’s sport. Omalu told CNN about his autopsy of a former pro ballplayer, Mike Webster. One of the primary reasons he chose CTE was because it would satisfy a legal standard in the United States called the Daubert principle. Dr. Omalu recognized that he had identified this disease as an occupational disease and would soon end up in a law court. Dr. Omalu’s work has been replicated and validated many times by independent researchers the world over.
Nonetheless, special interest groups have sought to damage his credibility. But Dr. Omalu says, “The Truth Does Not Have a Side.” While Dr. Omalu does not need to be defended, it is instructive to hear how he has explained his work and its importance in previous media interviews and online as follows:
“Dementia pugilistica was unlikely since he [Webster] was not a boxer.”
“Because I had already excluded Alzheimer’s disease and dementia pugilistica…”
“The microscopic findings in Webster’s brain were distinctive and unique [to Webster].”
“I went to Dekosky’s office and showed him the slides. He, too, confirmed that this was not Alzheimer’s disease and it was not dementia pugilistica. He agreed that I had observed a new syndrome and advised me to publish the paper of my findings. At this point we still had no clue what this new syndrome was.” “Not a single paper had been published describing what I had observed in Webster’s brain. None whatsoever. . .”
“Yes, much had been published on boxers, (the “punch drunk” condition known as dementia pugilistica) but nothing had been written on any American football player.”
“I believed I had discovered a new disease in an American football player, a disease that had to be named. I did not know what name to give it”
“The name must be sufficiently generic, so that if someone down the road proved me wrong that this was not a distinctive disease, the name would still accurately describe the observed symptoms.” “I therefore went back to the medical literature looking for descriptive terminologies that had been used to describe conditions resulting from primary brain injuries. In my research I identified and selected 24 descriptive terminologies that referred to long-term and delayed complications and outcomes of traumatic brain injury, but were not proper nouns of any specific disease [such as Pugilism to describe boxing disease, or punch drunk] with established pathology, especially in an American football player.”
“They are: cerebral neurasthenia, chronic traumatic brain injury, chronic brain injury, compensation hysteria, concussion neurosis, delayed traumatic apoplexy, dementia traumatica, encephalopathia traumatica, litigation neurosis, postconcussion neurosis, postconcussion syndrome, post-traumatic concussion state, post-traumatic head syndrome, post-traumatic psychoneurosis, terror neurosis, traumatic constitution, traumatic encephalitis, traumatic encephalopathy, traumatic encephalopathy of boxers, traumatic hysterias, traumatic insanity, traumatic neurosis, traumatic psychosis, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”
Choosing a name for this Football “Disease”
“I spent days going through these names and analyzing them within the context of the three criteria I listed above.
I finally settled upon two names:
- Chronic traumatic brain injury
- Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Of the two, I preferred chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It accurately described what I found in Webster’s brain. Chronic means long-term, traumatic is associated with trauma, and encephalopathy refers to brain damage, disease, or malfunction. The acronym, CTE, seemed easy to grasp and remember. The name sounded intellectually sophisticated. The name was sufficiently generic that if I were proven wrong and this was not a newly discovered brain disease, it still referred to a bad brain associated with trauma.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, thus became the name of the disease I observed in Webster’s brain.”
Similar CTE types of damages are now being diagnosed in the brains of hockey players and professional wrestlers. Dr. Omalu sufficiently explained for courts and the world how the term CTE came about concerning NFL players and contacted sport-specific head injuries.
“Chronic means the long term” “Traumatic means associated with trauma. Encephalopathy means a bad brain.” “If I had just published it as a case report without a name in a scientific journal, it would have just fizzled and become swallowed up by the body of existing literature.” (Source).
2015 – The hit smash, blockbuster Will Smith movie, “Concussion,” is released. Actor Will Smith portrays Doctor Benton Omalu. The NFL immediately goes to work, trying to discredit Dr. Omalu further.
February 3, 2016 – An autopsy of Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler reveals he too had CTE.
March 11, 2016 – Deceased San Diego Charger defensive back Paul Oliver’s family files a lawsuit against NFL helmet-maker Riddell and its related corporate entities in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. Soon his family was joined by Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Super Bowl champ, Paul Hornung in a related case. Since then, at least 100 former NFL players have sued Riddell. The allegations are simple. Riddell is alleged to have conspired with the NFL to create fake science about head injuries. Although Riddell attempted to get the case dismissed using the NFL’s failed federal labor preemption defense, they lost. Also, even though the NFL is not named as a defendant, it still must provide non-party discovery.
March 14, 2016 – Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy, admits a connection between football and CTE, stating: “the answer to that question is certainly, yes.” He made this admission during a round-table discussion with the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce when he was asked whether “there is a link between football and degenerative brain disorders like CTE.”
March 24, 2016 – Former player Kevin Turner, shown here during a 1998 NFL game, had an advanced CTE stage when he passed away at 46. With Boston University and the Concussion Legacy Foundation, Dr. Ann McKee asserted that Turner’s CTE was brought on by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka Lou Gehrig’s disease. Again, NFL connected McKee downplays football’s role. Her understanding of CTE is different from Omalu’s, so more research must be done, etc.
July 20, 2016 – After 30 years, the NFL announced it was ending its relationship with CTE denier Dr. Elliot Pellman. In its farewell address, the NFL said: “We thank Dr. Pellman for his dedicated service to the game and his many contributions to the NFL and our clubs, and we appreciate his willingness to aid in this transition over the next few months.
July 25, 2016 – The NFL and NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) come up with another new policy regarding playing and concussions, stating that anyone violating the system remains subject to discipline, such as monetary fines or even losing pending draft picks.
September 14, 2016 – Commissioner Goodell announces that the NFL and 32 club owners are paying out over $100 million to support “engineering advancements” and “medical research.” And this is on top of the $100 million the NFL tried to use to influence neuroscience with the NIH opinions previously.
October 2016 – Bennet Omalu announces that CTE was found in the brain of Jordan Parsons, who was an MMA fighter, killed the previous day by a drunk driver.
November 17, 2016 – Harvard University issues its report claiming that NFL doctors’ conflicts of interest could endanger players. (Source).
March 25, 2016 – New York Times releases its blockbuster study proving that much, if not all of the concussion data, the MTBI used for its papers were “significantly—and likely knowingly—flawed.” (Source).
July 25, 2017 – JAMA releases its study identifying CTE in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains donated to scientific research studies. That meant that 110 out of 111 former NFL players have CTE.
July 29, 2017 – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) terminated its $30 million brain injury research funding deal with the NFL after the NIH was caught between money and science. Most of all, it had become clear that the NFL’s MTBI, by now renamed, would rarely, if at all, allow their research money to be used for anything potentially “detrimental” to the sport under its existing rules of play. (Source – NPR). So after years of having its journals, literature, doctors, and scientists sullied by NFL money, ESPN reported that the NFL and NIH End Partnership For Concussion Research With $16M Unspent.
‘”NIH officials decided months ago to let the agreement expire in August with more than half of the money unused, following a bitter dispute in 2015 in which the NFL backed out of a major study that had been awarded to a researcher who had been critical of the league.”‘
September 21, 2017 – Attorney Jose Baez informs reporters that brain testing on the brain of former New England Patriots tight end, and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, demonstrated a “severe case” of CTE. Although the Hernandez murder and wrongful death cases were not in California, they do raise the interesting overlap. A civilian death claim and a criminal murder claim were both presented in the matter. In a court hearing, the attorney for the families of two people allegedly gunned down made a special tribunal request. He asked Hernandez to lose his bonus pay.
According to the lawyer, the dead man’s parents want the judge to bar the Patriots from paying Hernandez a 3.2 million dollar bonus. Prosecutors say Hernandez allegedly fatally shot Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012. They claim that Hernandez killed one of the men after the victim accidentally spilled a drink on him at a nightclub. Also, this was just weeks before signing a 5-year contract with the Patriots for 40 million dollars.
Patriots attorney William Kennedy said the Patriots had challenged the rights of Hernandez. They said he should not have received the 3.2 million dollar bonus at all. Hernandez got released from the Patriots in 2013. So this was after his arrest in connection with the death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd. (The conviction had been vacated when Hernandez passed away in April 2017.)
Oct 11, 2017 – Union of Concerned Scientists (“UCS”) publishes a report that “The NFL Tried to Intimidate Scientists Studying the Link between Pro Football and Traumatic Brain Injury,” writing that: “NFL efforts to suppress scientific evidence of links between football and concussions not only put its players at risk for memory loss, impulse control problems, and progressive dementia, but also put at risk the thousands of college athletes and more than one million youth athletes who play tackle football, many of whom were completely unaware of the risks.
NFL leadership on the issue of concussions could have helped across all youth sports.” (Source – UCS). Noteworthy here is that in personal injury law, concealing the risks of injury in a sport or anything else could be deemed a fraud. Here, the concealment or misrepresentation of evidence linking football to CTEs placed athletes and their families at risk, and some people even died and are still dying. And this could likely be enough evidence to void any waiver on known or unknown risks. The reason being, if the allegations are true, the League peddled lies to players and even sent players with head injuries back on the field. If you believe the players, the League fostered an environment where players would volunteer to go out, lest they become ostracised or passed over for opportunities at glory, money, or both.
November 9, 2017 – Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist and ally of the NFL, asserted that Hernandez’s brain disease was very severe. But there are other ways he could have injured his brain other than football because CTE is “known to manifest in harmful ways.”
November 10, 2017 – Researchers publish in the journal Neurosurgery what they claim is the first case of a living person identified with CTE. As lead author, Dr. Bennet Omalu informed CNN that the test subject was former NFL player Fred McNeill.
May 4, 2017 – The NFL and its Players Association released their annual Helmet Laboratory Testing Performance Results, choosing the VICIS ZERO1 helmet for the second year in a row. Doctors warn that no piece of technology can change the physical properties of the brain. And they conclude that it makes no sense for the NFL to funnel the vast majority of their $100 million in CTE money into helmets, which does nothing to address the root causes of CTE in players, which is hard impacts that can rattle any brain, helmet or not.
2018 – MMA star Wanderlei Silva admits he has symptoms consistent with CTE. Silva expresses interest in donating his for CTE research
2018 – During a deposition in a CTE-related lawsuit against the NCAA, Omalu acknowledged he did not discover the disease, CTE. “Some people who give me credit for discovering CTE, that is not true, really,” he said. Later, Omalu said he had only been “successful in rebranding this disease concept.”
February 3, 2019 – The owner of the highly political and failing WaPo, Jeff Bezos, pays the NFL over $5 million for an ad promoting “journalists.” Many journalists are infuriated at this ad to spend when WaPo has cut many benefits for its journalists.
January 22, 2020 – NFL Player-friendly NY Post reveals that Dr. Omalu,
“…is currently a designated expert witness in cases where the NHL, NCAA, and NHL are defendants.” (Source – NY Post).
January 22, 2020 – The NFL-friendly Washington Post does a hit piece on Dr. Omalu, the so-called “inventor” of the acronym “CTE,” along with many other hearsay allegations. Below we will address each one.
January 22, 2020 – WaPo friendly UK Daily Mail republishes the false, defamatory statements published as fact in the WaPo article against Omalu. Without doing any of their independent research, the Daily Mail immediately reported Hobson’s scientific assertions about Omalu as TRUE:
“Interviews with more than 50 experts in neurodegenerative disease and brain injuries, and a review of more than 100 papers from medical journals, suggest Omalu has overstated the associated risks of CTE caused by concussions in sports and has fueled misconceptions about the disease, The Washington Post reports.” (See Daily Mail).
An example of how fake news and irresponsible reporting can spread without any independent research is seen above in the Daily Mail piece.
January 28, 2020 – Dr. Omalu responds to WaPo’s above-hit piece with: “We are Becoming a Nation of Lies. Dr. Bennet Omalu’s Response to the Washington Post Hit-Piece.
February 15, 2020 – In the blockbuster, “The Triumph of Doubt,” David Michaels uncovers how the NFL and its friends use paid experts to downplay risks and sow uncertainty in the public opinions about the NFL. (Source).
June 12, 2020 – A Miami Herald Op-Ed demands: “Roger Goodell should just admit it: The NFL is nothing but a modern-day plantation,” “NFL is the kind of insidious organization that hides its racism in plain sight,” “70 percent of whom are Black.” (Source – Miami Herald).
July 25, 2020 – WaPo settles a “hitman journalism” lawsuit filed by a white male, pro-life, Christian-Catholic student named Nick Sandman. WaPo’s journalists destroyed Sandman, who received death threats, apparently for the political offense of wearing a MAGA hat and being Pro-Life. He filed a $250 Million hit-piece journalism lawsuit against WaPo for defamation. “Sandmann sued the Post, and other major news outlets after their coverage [falsely] portrayed Sandmann and his classmates as racist and aggressive towards Nathan Phillips, an elderly Native American man, during a confrontation near the Lincoln Memorial on January 18 of last year.” Sandman was falsely portrayed as racist by the use of camera angles and similar cheap, journalistically dishonest parlor tricks to those used by sports writer Hobson to trash “Nigerian,” “Christian,” “Evangelist,” Dr, Omalu. Sandmann also has ongoing lawsuits against WaPo’s political allies at “ABC, CBS, NBC, the New York Times, Gannett, Rolling Stone, and several other news outlets.” Interesting here is howWaPos allies completely ignore Hobson’s racist, anti-Christian undertones against “Nigerian” Dr. Omalus at the above so-called “news” outlets.
Hobson’s hit piece’s thrust is that “multiple experts” say Omalu is an exaggerator who fuels misconceptions. Hobson asserts that Omalu, “the man considered by many the public face of CTE research, routinely exaggerates his accomplishments and dramatically overstates the known risks of CTE and contact sports, fueling misconceptions about the disease, according to interviews with more than 50 experts in neurodegenerative disease and brain injuries, and a review of more than 100 papers from peer-reviewed medical journals.” (Source).
At the outset, journalist Hobson must claim ambiguously that “50 experts” had been interviewed. Yet, in typical modern journalistic fashion, he failed to disclose who they were or interview them. Maybe he interviewed the “expert” who spends millions on NFL TV ads? Who knows. Who are your experts, Mr. Hobson? What are their backgrounds?
Didn’t the NFL routinely hire physicians who were not experts in brain injuries as experts? Let’s find out.
A quick review of the WaPo journalist’s background establishes that he has zero ability to lay a foundation as an expert in medicine or the law. He is an English major. He claims he is a “National sports reporter with a focus on accountability and investigations.” Maybe he should hold himself accountable and present the truth?
Out of these so-called [cherry-picked] “news” interviews by Hobson, it appears that the two physicians most connected to the NFL/NIH money, McKee, and Davies had the worst things to say about Omalu. All the doctors who received money from NFL seem to disagree with Omalu’s qualifications or some other aspect of his research after being asked a series of leading questions by Hobson. Go figure.
Let’s look again at Doctor Omalu’s background and experience and compare and contrast it to the above qualifications of English major and professional wordsmith Will Hobson.
Read more here: (Source – Miami Herald).
But now, let’s do some real reporting and provide BOTH sides of the story.
1. Doctor Peter Davies – Will Hobson ironically chose to exclude from his hit-piece that Peter Davies worked with the NFL. Also, Davies is available for hire as a highly PAID EXPERT WITNESS. The NFL initially hired Davieshe NFL to review Omalu’s work. Dr. Davies has testified in many high-profile brain injury cases, just like Omalu. Davies claims he “met” with Omalu. Now, 12 years later, during pending brain injury litigation cases involving organized sports, Davies told WaPo that:
2. Doctor Ronald Hamilton – This man is Omalu’s mentor. Now retired, the former Pittsburgh neuropathologist, in response to many loaded and misleading questions asked by Hobson, Hamilton said he “does not recall seeing the [CTE] signature pattern and no longer has his research material from the case.” However, Hamilton said he is “100% sure” Webster had CTE. But without his research materials, he couldn’t “prove it” over the phone. Hobson also tried to insinuate to Hamiton that Omalu claimed to have invented the medical term CTE. Hamilton was unsure about that. But Hamilton knew better than to agree that is what happened. It was an ambush interview.
3. Doctor Daniel Perl – This paid medical expert is a Uniformed Services University’s physician and a past recipient of NFL funding through the NIH. “Department of Defense-funded collaboration between the NIH and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.” Perl has also built a lucrative business hiring himself out as an expert witness, especially in the growing football brain injury CTE-related litigation field pioneered by Dr. Omalu. Anything negative he says about Omalu is pure bias influenced by the NFL.
4. Doctor Ann McKee – Dr. McKee is biased against Dr. Omalu. Dr. Mckee accepted at least $1 million from the NFL, “and the NIH accepted millions of dollars from the NFL and other sports organizations and joined the NFL” in dismissing Omalu as a charlatan. Although “McKee has never examined Webster’s brain,” she says Omalu is wrong about CTE.
“In 2010, Dr. Ann McKee’s research group received a $1 million grant from the NFL.” (Source – NY Post).
Dr. McKee has built a very lucrative business for herself, also hiring herself out as an expert witness in the “growing CTE-litigation field.” Her fame is based upon her ability to muddy the waters of the real causes of CTE in football players. Like other apparent apologists for the NFL, she can’t outright deny cigarettes cause cancer. Oops, I mean, she can’t deny that football injuries cause CTE. But she can try and say “more research” is needed, or “we just are not sure yet.”
In other words, the plaintiff loses when he sues the NFL. Not enough evidence, and “Omalu is not qualified.” It’s all effortless if you have done a jury trial or know anything about proving a case.
It’s a plaintiff’s burden to prove that “more likely than not,” football is what caused the CTE.” McKee’s job as an NFL apologist would be to say there is just not enough evidence that “more likely than not, it was an NFL related CTE, etc. All she has to do is muddy the waters. And clearly, she did an excellent job of that by helping create this hit piece against players and their expert, Dr. Omalu.
5. Seena Fazel – Is a professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford. Fazel and Omalu disagree on whether all contact sports should be ended or just made safer. The WaPo reporter takes issue with Omalu’s statement that data from “Studies have shown that if a child plays a high-impact, high-contact sport,” “that child stands a higher risk of dropping out of high school, not attending college, not doing well in life . . . developing psychiatric and psychological problems. . . and even dying at a younger age.” Fazel is unhappy that data is being used from a study Fazel contributed to for Omalu to form an opinion about a related issue of football-related CTEs. Fazel does not think data used in his research should be allowed to assist Omalu in creating the basis of Omalu’s scientific and medical opinions regarding contact sports. Well, guess what? It’s data. I can pull raw data from a CHP report that also has an idea about car accidents. I can use that same data and arrive at a different conclusion than the CHP author. Why? Because I am an expert in personal injury law. That’s why! That is what doctors and lawyers do. Besides, it is highly likely that Fazel’s co-authors, Amir Sariaslan, David J Sharp, Brian M D’Onofrio, Brian M. D’Onofrio, and Henrik Larsson, would use identical data to form different opinions as well. That is why it’s called a scientific “theory.”
6. Doctor Willie Stewart – Stewart is a co-author of the “Webster paper” that he, Dr. Omalu, and Dr. Dekosy worked on. The WaPo reporter touts Stewart as Britain’s leading CTE researcher, a neuropathologist. Stewart holds an “honorary” clinical associate professorship at the University of Glasgow. He is alleged to have stated that “The images that Bennet has in that [Webster] paper, they don’t show CTE.” Why years later hasn’t Stewart done something about retracting or adding the correct images into the Webster paper? Something does not pass the smell test here.
7. Doctor Dekosky – We reached out to Dekosky to see if he said that he “… believes Omalu still has Webster’s brain, either at his home or in his private lab outside Sacramento.” According to Dr. Omalu, the NFL retained an expert in 2007 to review Dr. Omalu’s work. Dr. Omalu turned over brain tissues belonging to Mike Webster, Terry Long, Andre Waters, and Justin Strzelczyk, the first four CTE cases in NFL players, to the NFL expert, who had them for several months. Dr. Omalu reported his findings in scientific journals, which were peer-reviewed and validated. Dr. Omalu’s results have been independently validated and reproduced by scientists across the world. Dr. Omalu does not have Mike Webster’s brain in his house or his possession. Mike Webster was only one of the numerous CTE cases Dr. Omalu diagnosed in CTE’s early days.
Interestingly, Omalu and most of the other experts listed above are all PAID experts. Some testify as experts in lawsuits. So, of course, they are going to have a different opinion than Omalu. And it’s amazing how a big advertiser on “news” sites, like the NFL and its surrogates, can get its own “expert opinion” from an English major with sway over major news networks worldwide. Perhaps this is why WaPo is referenced as “fake news” by so many people today?
Just remember, plaintiff’s attorneys and defense lawyers often hire doctors who are colleagues to testify against each other in civil and criminal cases. Experts get paid for their opinions. Non-experts with views on a legal or scientific matter are merely “lay witnesses.” So Mr. Hobson‘s snippets claiming Omalu’s “alarming statistics” dealing with contact sports are “distorted” are entirely false and defamatory assertions that benefit, guess who, the NFL. Hobson claims that Omalu “cultivates a reputation” as the “global authority on CTE,” but it’s “unclear” whether he is “diagnosing it correctly.” Hobson has officially promoted himself to the position of a medical doctor. Congrats. Yes, you can!
Regardless of who we want to believe, a paid NFL advertiser like WaPo or the brain injury victims assisted by Omalu, one thing is exact, the families of deceased sports players love him. True, families who suspect a brain injury caused the death are more likely to submit a decedent’s brain for CTE testing. (Source). And that is just common sense. So yes, there should be more studies.
Without providing any evidence of sources like links, copies of deposition transcripts, Youtube videos, etc., Hobson asserts that Omalu is a con man. Below, we have provided the legal arguments in opposition to Hobson’s assertions that Omalu is a liar.
All the paid hostile experts Hobson mentioned in his WaPo hit piece are in some way connected to the sport industrial complex. For example, the Post failed to disclose some blatant conflicts of interest. Hobson’s main character “witnesses” Ann McKee worked for and with the NFL. And many of Hobson’s hostile witnesses either have received millions of dollars in grants and other intangible ancillary benefits from these sports leagues and other affiliated organizations. Since Dr. Omalu’s work began in 2002, these researchers have made repeated attempts to discredit Dr. Omalu and undermine his research, conclusions, and positions. It must be noted that, as in any profession, some envy the accomplishments of peers.
What Are the True Facts?
Competing expert witnesses in existing court cases might not have the best things to say about Dr. Omalu, right? Moreover, didn’t journalist Hobson just make money testifying as an opinion expert for WaPo, publishing his biased, one-sided “research paper” about Omalu?
Let’s look at some reasons why WaPo might want to try and destroy a doctor like Omalu. First of all, WaPo is right up there with the other “corporatized” news networks as a purveyor of biased “news.” Like Fox for republicans or Snopes for the democrats, many organizations are mere rubber stamps for these types of shenanigans. Who is investigating the investigators? Take a look at MTBI. It has a catchy name, yet it was designed to churn out pro-NFL brain injury literature and court wins for all intents and purposes.
Who are Omalu’s number one foes? What cases are pending with experts and juries who might read this totally BS “news” report. Many sports-related brain injury cases are before the courts right now! And guess who NFL players hire as an expert to testify against the NFL, NHL, professional wrestling, and NCAA in CTE brain injury lawsuits? Gee, let me think!
“… Washington Post advertisement during the Super Bowl … sticker price of at least $5.2 million, and likely closer to $10 million, it’s a big buy for a newspaper that is nickel-and-diming its employees over starting salaries and health insurance. Moreover, it comes after two weeks of layoffs in the industry have left journalists sad and angry about, among other things, executive mismanagement at newspapers and digital media companies.” (Source).
I guess it’s not a bad thing for WaPo to buy or sell NFL advertising and then whitewash truthful, negative stories about the NFL? Right?
Partially true: “‘The doctor, who is based in Northern California, said he didn’t participate in the WaPo story because the writer [Hobson] sent him “harassing emails” calling him a “fraud.” So Omalu knew he wouldn’t get a fair shake. The doctor also said he didn’t have faith in Hobson’s grasp of the scientific intricacies. (Hear, Hear!!) On that, we can both wholeheartedly agree. This work is one of the worst fake news stories I have run across in years. Of particular concern here, Omalu also alleged that Hobson “was contacting the families of the cases I have done, and he was saying I misdiagnosed their cases.'” (Source – NY Post).
If this is verifiable, Hobson is far exceeding the bounds of an objective reporter. Based on what I have read, Hobson is not someone who should cover the news. This is a person better suited to work for the National Enquirer or opinion pieces.
Hobson is keen on talking about a few cases where a court disqualified Omalu procedurally as an expert for failing to lay a foundation. Guess what? It happens to both sides in contentious matters. But Hobson is not a doctor, lawyer, or scientist. He works for a company in bed with the NFL and passes off hit-piece stories like this.
A California Evidence Code Section comes to mind when I read self-righteous arguments from the Hobson pot calling the kettle “Nigerian.”
Evidence Code Section 412 states:
“If weaker and less satisfactory evidence is offered when it was within the power of the party to produce stronger and more satisfactory evidence, the evidence offered should be viewed with distrust.”
As seen above, it was within journalist Hobson’s power to provide these 50 character witnesses’ identities. And a real journalist would point out right away whether or not these 50 ghost experts were hostile parties in any pre-existing litigation involving Omalu and the NFL or another sports team.
Hobson did here akin to interviewing a Ford engineer to discuss why Chevy engineering isn’t as good as Ford. Seriously, let’s take a look at the weaker and less satisfactory evidence provided by Hobson in more detail.
Below we will prove that each of these maligners Hobson quoted is either a paid expert for the NFL or was asked leading questions as if the propositions were true. For example, Hobson’s questioning of Dr. Hamilton regarding Hobson’s unverified assertions that Omalu claimed to invent the Latin term CTE. WaPo provided us with zero information about these other 50 mystery experts was provided. Because of this, the statements made by Hobson’s seven disclosed experts should be viewed by us with distrust!
I admit, in the NFL’s defense, the CTE numbers may be exaggerated due to testing bias or lack of dead test subject donors. But I am not a medical doctor. However, I know from being a highly experienced personal injury attorney that still does not invalidate Omalu’s medical opinion about what caused the CTE in his patients or why he selected the acronym CTE instead of football or some more specific name.
Hobson is not qualified to form any medical opinions or findings. Yet, he didn’t even bother making an opinion. Instead, Hobson made factual assertions based upon NFL propaganda. And he did so during active court cases by players against contact sports teams, selling his BS piece to millions of potential jurors—Hobson’s research and reporting methods were appreciated by Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda. The racially charged underpinnings of Hobson’s “Nigerian” huckster story make Goebbel’s the perfect comparison.
Hobson, the author of the piece, his supervising sports sub-editor, and WaPo, should not be allowed to destroy people’s lives they disagree with politically or because of their financial entanglements. Moreover, this may be a teachable moment for all of the journalism industry. Hobson abused his journalistic privileges by writing such a low-class and pedestrian hit-piece like you would have in the third world and less developed countries of the world. But this is simply beneath 21st century America, especially on the pages of what used to be a leading newspaper in the United States. Merely speaking, his is not acceptable. Good people, especially physicians, NFL players, and lawyers, should push back and tell the truth about the NFL plantation and its army of propaganda masters. I cannot do it all by myself.
For the record, Dr. Omalu holds eight professional degrees and certifications. He is a forensic pathologist, and forensic pathologists work as expert witnesses and medico-legal consultants. Dr. Omalu was earning a good living as an expert witness before he discovered CTE. He has been used as a retained expert witness and continues to work as a retained expert witness for plaintiffs and families in cases whereby the major sports leagues are defendants.
His work as an expert witness accounts for only a fraction of the income that Dr. Omalu earns. Omalu owns a private physician practice and provides pathology services to those that need them. Dr. Omalu began publishing all his work in the early days of CTE in highly regarded peer-reviewed scientific journals about 18 to 20 years ago. Nearly two decades later, for no apparent reason and without any new scientific information, this sports reporter started manipulating established scientific facts and regurgitating many of the same tropes the NFL used to downplay Omalu’s findings to discredit Dr. Omalu.
Often, a statute of limitations on when suits related to football or other harm can be filed with a courthouse. Sometimes the time to sue falls within about two years. But some time limits are just one year. Your NFL player’s contract may restrict others. And some exceptions like come or imprisonment can operate to toll the statute of limitations for some time. Either way, a recent Federal District Court Settlement under Judge Anita Brody greenlighted brain injury lawsuits against the NFL. Former football players facing brain issues may now sue for diseases of the mind like Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia.
So that means retired players with CTE may have the right to pursue restitution to pay for things like:
Above, we discussed the history of football injuries and how money has driven the sport rather than player safety. We also detailed the history of the NFL’s helmet scandal and a timeline of facts, including brain injury-related deaths of players and potential League culpability. Also discussed were the rights and remedies of players alleging a school or the NFL deceived them. We concluded that the NFL and NFLPA are creating medical positions with NFL money in the medical community and monitoring how the situation unfolds. We also learned that more action is needed to protect current and future players from the NFL and fake journalism bout their champion, Dr. Omalu. We must stop future harm. We owe it to our future football players, no matter the age.
Most of all, if you believe that you suffered harm due to playing football, our team of legal pros pays particular attention to these cases. We can offer you any help, and we will come anywhere in the state to discuss your situation and legal options. Please call or email us today to learn more about brain injuries and the law.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.