This December, Will Smith stars in one of the most anticipated movies of the year, Concussion. In this film Smith portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist who is the first to publicly acknowledge chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players.
In 2002, Omalu’s did an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steelers center, Mike Webster. From the autopsy, Webster’s brain appeared normal; however, it wasn’t until Omalu conducted further research that he was able to discover the root cause of his death. From the beginning, Omalu suspected Webster suffered from Dementia Pugilistica caused by repeated hits to the head. This was a condition previously found in boxers like Muhammad Ali. Using specialized staining, Omalu discovered vast amounts of tau protein in Webster’s brain, which affected his mood, emotions, and cognitive processes.