PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – The new film “Concussion” opens nationwide on Christmas Day.
The movie, filmed in Pittsburgh, is about Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist working in Pittsburgh, who discovers the disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative disease found in those who have suffered repeated head trauma.
Dr. Omalu, played by Will Smith in the movie, discovers the disease while examining the brain of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster.
The movie is based on a 2009 article that appeared in GQ called “Game Brain” by Jeanne Marie Laskas. She joined the KDKA Morning News to talk about the movie and Dr. Omalu.
Laskas says in 2009 Dr. Omalu “had been marginalized completely because of his research.”
“So, when I ran into him, actually, when I dug him up, he was living in California,” Laskas said.
She adds at the time the NFL did not want to hear Dr. Omalu’s research and thus became an afterthought until her article.
Laskas says she is a big fan of football and “doesn’t want to see the game end, but there’s something that we got to start talking about here that is like an elephant in the room.”
“What’s happening to these players, and by extension, what’s happening to these kids that are playing football, and that is, our heads aren’t built this way, to take this kind of impact,” Laskas said.
She says CTE isn’t subtle, and has caused players like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson to commit suicide and cause many others to suffer mental illness.
Laskas says she thinks the conversation is changing and says that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s comment about taking concussions seriously is “a great sign.”
Laskas, who lives in Pittsburgh and was a consultant on the film, says, “It’s accurate; there’s been no conversation with the NFL, no softening of it, and when you see it, you understand that.”
Listen to the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway weekdays 5 to 9 a.m. on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA.