NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The riveting, unlikely story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who first identified CTE in professional football players, a discovery that challenges the existence of America’s favorite sport and puts Omalu in the crosshairs of football’s most powerful corporation: the NFL
Jeanne Marie Laskas first met the young forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in 2009, while reporting a story for GQ that would go on to inspire the movie Concussion. Omalu told her about a day in September 2002, when, in a dingy morgue in downtown Pittsburgh, he picked up a scalpel and made a discovery that would rattle America in ways he’d never intended. Omalu was new to America, chasing the dream, a deeply spiritual man escaping the wounds of civil war in Nigeria. The body on the slab in front of him belonged to a fifty-year-old named Mike Webster, aka “Iron Mike,” a Hall of Fame center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the greatest ever to play the game. After retiring in 1990, Webster had suffered a dizzyingly steep decline. Toward the end of his life, he was living out of his van, tasering himself to relieve his chronic pain, and fixing his rotting teeth with Super Glue. How did this happen?, Omalu asked himself. How did a young man like Mike Webster end up like this? The search for answers would change Omalu’s life forever and put him in the crosshairs of one of the most powerful corporations in America: the National Football League. What Omalu discovered in Webster’s brain—proof that Iron Mike’s mental deterioration was no accident but a disease caused by blows to the head that could affect everyone playing the game—was the one truth the NFL wanted to ignore.
Taut, gripping, and gorgeously told, Concussion is the stirring story of one unlikely man’s decision to stand up to a multibillion-dollar colossus, and to tell the world the truth.
Praise for Concussion
“A gripping medical mystery and a dazzling portrait of the young scientist no one wanted to listen to . . . a fabulous, essential read.”—Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“The story of Dr. Bennet Omalu’s battle against the NFL is classic David and Goliath stuff, and Jeanne Marie Laskas—one of my favorite writers on earth—makes it as exciting as any great courtroom or gridiron drama. A riveting, powerful human tale—and a master class on how to tell a story.”—Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
“Bennet Omalu forced football to reckon with head trauma. The NFL doesn’t want you to hear his story, but Jeanne Marie Laskas makes it unforgettable. This book is gripping, eye-opening, and full of heart.”—Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones
Part medical whodunit and part biography, this arresting account by Laska (Hidden America) introduces Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who reluctantly unravels a medical threat that challenges the future of the National Football League. In 2002, Omalu, a forensic neuropathologist working for the Allegheny County coroner's office, performs an autopsy on former NFL great Mike Webster, who exhibited bizarre behavior and dementia, and concludes that the cause was chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain disease, caused by concussions sustained during football games. Omalu stirs up a hornet's nest when he testifies about these conclusions in court. At times, Laskas switches the focus to the Nigerian doctor's overly romanticized views of America or his painful battle with depression, but the book mostly covers his detailed legal wrangling with the NFL monopoly over long-term CTE symptoms and acceptable compensation. The deck is stacked again against any football player taking savage hits in the game, even with the protective helmet, according to Omalu: "On the surface is nothing, but you open the skull and the brain is mush." Some NFL officials and gridiron vets think the CTE legal aftermath has weakened football's muscular appeal, but Laskas expertly makes the case for valuing the health of football players over the image of the league, justifying the large cash settlement for damage. This important book is based on a 2009 article Laskas wrote for GQ, as is a forthcoming film.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The story is credible and speaks well to the issue of profit over quality of life for athletes and their families.I respect wholly the persistence of Dr Omalu and his principles in going forward with disclosure against the wishes of many.A book that needed to be written.
Man vs MultiBillion Colossus
Such an amazing story of a man dreaming big in the sense of saving lives and using science to justify his actions. An amazing story here was said and to be recognize by anyone who plays sports; Also another reason can be said from how creating a "cover-up" can be made to make a company who owns a day off a week, anything for business. On the other hand this movie portrays Health. People need to know what their going into when they play sports besides the injuries that can be seen and be cautions off things internally. The Truth hurts but it saves lives; And Science proves this from Dr. Omalu study!!!
Gives you a whole new viewpoint on how the nfl tried to cover itself. Very well written. On to the movie....