Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor credited with the focus on the connection between head impacts sustained playing NFL football and eventual brain damage and death, and who created the term “CTE”, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, was the focus of a Washington Post report called “How Bennet Omalu, doctor of ‘Concussion’ fame, built a career on distorted science.” A look at the people behind the Washington Post article reveals ties directly to the National Football League that casts a negative light on the legitimacy of the report.
The Washington Post Report Author Will Hobson Is Not A Medical Reporter But A Sports Reporter Who Covers The National Football League For The Post
Will Hobson’s name appears on the front page of the Washington Post article, but the text does not give his background or work. But a click on his name reveals that the vast majority of his articles focus on the National Football League, about 70 percent by count. Thus, Mr. Hobson has a regular reporter’s relationship with the league that can cause one to ask if someone at the NFL had any involvement in the smear post against Dr. Bennet Omalu,.
It’s also known that Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post, and a very involved one, and was a guest of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in his suite for the Super Bowl Game in Atlanta in 2019. That can point to the obvious possibility that the Washington Post was caused to write the “hit piece” by the NFL itself. The Washington Post never featured an article about specifically about Dr. Omalu and the NFL prior to 2020, just the CTE problem.
Will Hobson’s Strange Reference To Dr. Omalu’s Nationality Is Questionable
Then, Will Hobson goes out of his way to mention that Dr. Omalu is a “Nigerian American pathologist” without explaining why his origin is of any relevance to the story of his discovery of CTE. Is Mr. Hobson trying to use images of Doctor Omalu as a “black doctor” as part of his effort to discredit him? If not, there’s no other logical reason for the mention of Dr. Omalu’s nationality of origin as he is an American citizen.
Then, Will Hobson goes on to quote Dr. Ann McKee as the CTE Center Director at Boston University. Mr. Hobson manages to pepper his work with her negative quotes about Dr. Bennet Omalu, but fails to explain that her own research efforts have been funded (to a degree) by the National Football League. Moreover, a simple Internet search reveals that Dr. McKee pointed directly to Dr. Omalu as the reason for her discovery of CTE. She said to Frontline this:
“And that’s when I happened to see that Dr. [Bennet] Omalu had reported very interesting findings in a football player, and I was fascinated by it. I went to see his poster. He had a poster at the International Alzheimer’s [Conference]. He wasn’t there. At least he wasn’t at the poster when I was there. But I remember seeing it and thinking, that’s exactly what I saw in this boxer.
But, by shocking contrast in the Washington Post, Will Hobson quotes the same Dr. McKee saying this:
Omalu’s definition for CTE, as described in his published papers, is incredibly broad and all-encompassing, describing characteristics that can be found in normal, healthy brains, as well as in other diseases, according to experts including Ann McKee, lead neuropathologist for Boston University’s CTE Center.,..“His criteria don’t make sense to me,” McKee said. “I don’t know what he’s doing.”
Apparently, the truth is that Dr. McKee knew enough about what Dr. Omalu was doing to say that his findings were “interesting” and that what Dr. Omalu saw and indentified as CTE was “exactly what I saw in this boxer” she told Frontline.
Then, a co-worker with Dr. McKee told Hobson the following:
McKee’s assessment was supported by three neuropathologists who worked with her to develop guidelines for diagnosing CTE used by researchers around the world. “My God, if people were actually following [Omalu’s] criteria, the prevalence of this disease would be enormous, and there’s absolutely no evidence to support that,” said Dan Perl, one of those experts and professor of pathology at the Uniformed Services University.
OK, so why did Will Hobson not bother to explain the Mr. McKee study where, in 2017, she said this:
Boston University Study Finds CTE In 110 Of 111 Brains of Former NFL Players. Dr. Ann McKee says, “It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football.”
It seems a lot can change between 2017 and 2020. In 2017, reports say that Boston University saw its funding for CTE research pulled by the NFL because the league did not like the previous research director before Ann McKee was put in charge. Moreover, McKee reveals that the NFL itself asked her to present her findings on CTE, when it’s clear the NFL did not afford Dr Omalu the same platform. And the NFL has a history of funding Boston University research, having done so with a $1 million grant in 2010. Moreover, while Dr. McKee blasts Dr. Omalu for saying that CTE is a problem in other sports and activities in 2020, what does she do? In 2021, she lands a $2.3 million grant to study, well, just what Dr. Omalu proved several years ago.
Dr. Bennet Omalu Is The Forensic pathologist Who Discovered CTE Even As Will Hobson Writes A Nutty Sentence That He’s Not
A simple Internet search points to Dr. Bennet Omalu as the person who discovered and created the term “CTE.” Chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a term was discovered by Dr. Omalu and for a condition that appeared as early as 1928, but not by that name.
Moreover, NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall took time to praise Dr. Omalu for his work in discovering CTE, writing this in the Huff Post:
Thank you for your brilliant work in bringing the serious topic of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) to the forefront. So many football players and coaches just didn’t have the information required to make smart decisions on the field, sidelines and the locker room.
It changed the way we approach football and the way we deal with concussions on the sideline and throughout the week. Everything has changed since you forced this topic into the public consciousness.
Before your groundbreaking work, I was someone who never thought about head trauma or concussions. In fact, in 2010, when I was in my contract year, I suffered a concussion, and I never disclosed it with the team because if I missed games, my value would suffer, and I didn’t want to lose the security I was so close to having for me and my family.
To observers it’s clear the spectre of racism is at play here. In a blog post at The Neurocritic, which repeats the mindless bias against Dr. Omalu, a reader commented:
Isn’t this a little disingenuous? While there was CTE in boxers, the phenomena as it extended to football players was not discovered until Dr. Omalu dissected Mike Webster’s brain. So, he did discover CTE – in football players. Now, I get it. White woman, black man. And racism is alive and well. But to say that the man (NOTE: HE DID NOT!) had no influence in the diagnosis of CTE in football players is just denying the man his due. Check your biases please. You are arguing semantics now.
Both Will Hobson and Dr. McKee should check their biases against Dr. Omalu. It’s shameful that Hobson would issue an obviously manufactured attempt to smear Dr. Omalu, yet call it journalism. This blogger cries foul.