Dr. bennet omalu was uninterested in football. The game had always seemed bizarre to him. Growing up in Nigeria, in his own words, “I thought these were people dressed like extraterrestrials, you know, like they were going to Mars or something … headgears and shoulder pads. And I wondered why, as a child, why did they have to dress that way?” He figured they must get hit in the head a lot if they had to wear those ridiculous helmets. But back then, no one gave it much thought.

In their book League of Denial: the NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru describe a Saturday morning in 2002 when Omalu pulled into the parking lot at a Pittsburgh coroner’s office to do a routine autopsy. He was annoyed to be stuck working the weekend shift and apparently...

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