Letting youngsters play football is child abuse, the pathologist credited with discovering a specific kind of brain disease in NFL players said.
Bennet Omalu, who first identified the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that helped lead to a better understanding of sports-related concussions, made the powerful statement this week at the New York Press Club.
“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse, and it will succeed,” said Omalu, chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County. “It is the definition of child abuse.”
Omalu, whose memoir “Truth Doesn’t Have a Side” was released on Tuesday, also said no one under 18 should play football.
“If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure,” he said. “There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer.”
Omalu’s life was dramatized in the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith that highlighted how he took on the NFL establishment to make the game safer. A recent study by Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System found signs of CTE in 110 of 111 specimens donated by families of deceased NFL players.
“There is nothing the league can do,” Omalu said. The league is a corporation. What do corporations do? Make money. They’re not there to provide health care or perform research. That is not what they’re there to do. They’re selling product.
“If they feel the need to make any changes, they’re making calculated changes that will enhance their bottom line.”
Omalu is scheduled to speak Aug. 23 at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
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