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Dr. Bennet Omalu – For the past 10 yrs, why did the NFL tried to discredit this brilliant Nigerian-born doctor? | Chocolate City: The Best African American Blog
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Dr. Bennet Omalu – For the past 10 yrs, why did the NFL tried to discredit this brilliant Nigerian-born doctor?


By Charles S. Mombo

Dr. Bennet Omalu – For the past 10 yrs, why did the NFL tried to discredit this brilliant Nigerian-born doctor?
Dr. Bennet Omalu – For the past 10 yrs, why did the NFL tried to discredit this brilliant Nigerian-born doctor?

As far as I'm concerned, Dr. Bennet Omalu, M.D., MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP, a Nigerian-born forensic pathologist, is a genius. Omalu, 44-year-old, was born in a Biafran village during the Nigerian civil war. Despite enormous challenges while growing up in the village, Omalu‘s fascination of the brain led him to the U.S for school and subsequent landing him an Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology in the Department of Pathology at University of California, Davis and the Chief Medical Examiner for San Joaquin County, California.

At age 32 in 2002, Omalu became a founding member of the Brain Injury Research Institute (BIRI).


The BIRI is a center for the study of traumatic brain injuries and prevention with a brain and tissue bank.  

According to BIRI.com, Omalu was the first doctor to discovered physical evidence of concussions and the disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in activities other than boxing. Omalu was also able to identify chronic brain damage as a factor in the deaths of some National Football League players. He discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of Pro Football Hall of Fame player Mike Webster in 2002. Omalu also participated in former NFL player Junior Seau's autopsy; it was reported, after Seau's suicide in 2012.

NFL Tried to Discredit Omalu, ‘That Damn African.’

Although Omalu is no match for the National Football League (NFL) with its $9-plus billion in annual revenues, he pissed the league up by writing couple of articles, the last one was entitled, "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player: Part II". Omalu sent his article to Neurosurgery, the prestigious peer-reviewed journal. Despite the NFL's threats and request for the first article to be retracted, Neurosurgery went ahead with Part II.

Despite Omalu outstanding articles, the NFL said his work was “preposterous," “flawed,” "It's not appropriate science," and "purely speculative."  It’s no secret, for over 10 years, the NFL has been trying to discredit and destroy Omalu’s career. Despite the NFL’s attacks, Omalu’s research has since been vindicated many times over, with each new discovery of the crippling neurodegenerative disease in a dead football player.

According to a 2009 GQ magazine article, the NFL repeatedly dismissed Omalu before sending an independent expert to examine his work in 2008. The expert, Peter Davies, who is a well-respected Neuropathologist initially was skeptical until he saw Omalu's slides, which contained the brain tissue of deceased football players. "The credit must go to Bennet Omalu," Davies told the magazine. "Because he first reported this and nobody believed him, nobody in the field, and I'm included in that. I did not think there was anything there. But when I looked at the stuff, he was absolutely right. I was wrong to be skeptical."

According to the magazine, the NFL's declined to make Davies' report public and never spoke to Omalu again.

NFL and Dr. Omalu – The Struggle for Junior Seau’s Brain

In a Pbs.org article, “In Brawl for Seau Brain, a Proxy War over Concussion Science,” after the death of Junior Seau, Omalu arrived at Seau’s autopsy with a special “brain briefcase” he carries on such occasions. His intention was to fly Seau’s brain back to San Francisco.

However, after being influenced by the NFL, Seau’s son Tyler Seau, said, he talked to the NFL and, the league, he said, informed him that Omalu’s “research is bad and his ethics are bad.” Tyler who was in a rage said, Omalu “is not to be in the same f—ing room as my dad!” he screamed. “He’s not to f—ing touch my dad! He’s not to have anything to do with my dad!” Omalu left and returned home, his brain briefcase empty.

The Pbs.org article further added that, “From that point on, the NFL played a powerful role in determining what happened to Junior Seau’s brain — who studied it and where.  The league muscled aside independent researchers, ignored a previous commitment to Boston University and directed Seau’s brain to the National Institutes of Health — four months before the NFL donated $30 million to that institution for concussion and other research.”

Dr. Bennet Omalu in his own words!

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