I hoped to find in Concussion what I loved so much about in The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks. I did. I don’t think someone needs to be overly interested in football or medicine to appreciate this story. If you have an interest in humanity and in doing what’s right, then the amazing life story of Bennet Omalu, a doctor from Nigeria, will certainly captivate you and much as it did me.
Dr. Omalu’s experience growing up amidst the political upheaval of Nigeria was such a unique story that it could have been a stand alone book. His upbringing instilled in him traits of honesty and integrity, both of which prompted him to examine footballer Mike Webster’s brain to determine a cause of death even though everyone said he died of heart disease. When Dr. Omalu made a shocking discovery about the link between his death and the beloved American pastime, football, he became determined to speak for Webster.
Inserted among the story were passages written by Dr. Omalu. It was a little choppy to switch the narration the way it was written, but his prose were strong and helped me understand who he was as a man. Actually, Dr. Omalu was the reason I liked this book as much as I did. He wasn’t looking to take down the NFL or make a name for himself with his research. He just wanted to be a good person and speak for others. There were so many great lines in the book that so accurately described society’s outlook about life and honesty. The author had an easy writing style that made the topics of medicine, football, death, and the law understandable.
I found Dr. Omula’s findings to be very credible. And it was clear the NFL did too. When Dr. Omalu finally put his findings together in a paper and published it in a well-respected medical journal, the NFL demanded a retraction. The NFL’s attempt to hide the truth would be less shocking if it wasn’t so blatantly obvious why they needed to pretend that head injuries on the field weren’t inflicting long-term harm to the players. By pretending Dr. Omalu was a quack, the NFL could deny coverage to players and continue to oppose civil suits for health benefits to retirees. There’s no other way to describe the actions of the NFL’s behavior than to say it was deeply shameful.
I devoured this book and can’t say enough about it and Dr. Omalu.