I Hope Hearing about Bennet Omalu Doesn’t Make Your Head Hurt

A movie about concussions is coming to a theater near you on Christmas Day.

Will Smith figures that the subject is important enough that he hung his star on it.

Will Smith as important Bennet Omalu. (From SONY)

Will Smith as important Bennet Omalu. (From SONY)

I’ve seen the trailers for Concussion on the big screen. I’m a football fan, have been my whole life. Yet I’ve become increasingly concerned about what’s happening out there to these fellows because of the shots they take to their head. Football, the world is finally coming to grips with, is dangerous to the brain.

Why does this serious subject find itself on the Blog of Funny Names, you ask?

From his WikiPedia page:

“Omalu was born on September 1968, the sixth of seven siblings. He was born during the Nigerian Civil War, which had caused his family to flee from their home in the predominantly Igbo village of Enugwu-Ukwu in southeastern Nigeria. They later returned, two years after Omalu’s birth. Omalu’s mother was a seamstress and his father a civil mining engineer and community leader in Enugwu-Ukwu. The family name, Omalu, is a shortened form of the surname, Onyemalukwubew, which translates to ‘if you know, come forth and speak.’ ”

The real Bennet Omalu. (From PBS)

The real Bennet Omalu. (From PBS)

Omalu came to America in 1994 to study epidemiology at the University of Washington. In 1995, he left for Columbia University’s Harlem Hospital Center and switched to anatomic and clinical pathology.

After residency, he moved to Pittsburgh and took up forensic pathology, and became interested in neuropathology.

That takes us to the brain, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL, Will Smith and the upcoming movie.

In short, Omalu studied how the hard knocks of football drastically hurt NFL players. NFL players did not like what he found. It got ugly.

From a review on Time.com by Sean Gregory: “Omalu faces off against the film’s bogeyman, the NFL, which goes all out to crush his findings. The league tries to discredit Omalu as a quack, even though, as we find out at the beginning of the film, he has about a dozen degrees. The racial overtones are clear: Who’s this African guy mucking with America’s passion? Omalu is harassed, and even receives a death threat.”

Oh, yeah, lest I forget. Omalu’s wife is played by one of my BoFN favorite actresses, Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Here’s the source for the photo of Will Smith.

Here’s the source for the photo of Bennet Omalu.

Here’s the link to Bennet Omalu’s WikiPedia page.

Here’s the link to the Time review.

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About markbialczak

Mark Bialczak is a veteran journalist. He started his blog, markbialczak.com, in February, 2013, to write about music, entertainment, sports and life.
This entry was posted in funny names in movies, funny names in sports and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to I Hope Hearing about Bennet Omalu Doesn’t Make Your Head Hurt

  1. SD Gates says:

    Hi Mark, I just read an article yesterday about how some doctors are saying kids should not even start playing football until after they are 18 years old because of the damage inflicted upon the brain. I know when my son went out for football all I could think about was him getting a horrific head injury and him having to deal with that the rest of his life. Luckily he decided football wasn’t for him, although they said he would have been a shoo in for a full scholarship at 6’6″ and 250lbs (and he is only 17). Oh well, I am relieved about it.

  2. Dave says:

    Hmm… so many juicy little morsels in this post… I’m intrigued that the players didn’t like his research. I would have thought the executives would’ve been more averse to it.

    Gugu Mbatha-Raw is one of those amazing amazing amazing names that pleases me every time I read it, haha. I want her to be more and more famous because that name is superb!

    Getting degrees ain’t easy… it’s impressive when someone has as many as him.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i love the names and love his story. i’m really looking forward to seeing this. i’ve been concerned about this as well, and wonder what i would do if i was raising a son who wanted to play –

  4. Arto says:

    Excellent! Willard Carroll Smith Jr. making a movie about Bennet Onyemalukwubew co-starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw. It’s gold, Jerry, gold!

    Should be an interesting flick. Great subject matter for sure. Reminds me of The Insider, just with less Pacino yelling on a beach, and more accents.

  5. kerbey says:

    This alone is amazing: Onyemalukwubew, which translates to ‘if you know, come forth and speak.’ I like that concept. It also sounds like a Nigerian Santa. On, Yemalu, On Kwubew, On Dancer and Vixen…

  6. wdydfae says:

    “. . . like a tight end crashing face first into a field goal, Mark’s post rips the sordid pigskin off of America’s favorite pastime . . .”

    “. . . you may not like what you see, but you won’t be able to look away from this groundbreaking behind the scenes peek at collision sports . . .”

    “. . . Mark steals all the bases in this stunning expose . . .”

    “. . . put on your shoulder pads and brace yourself for a high impact volley as Mark slam dunks that hockey puck into the forty-five yard line . . .”

    “. . . Mark dropkicks that net over the bleachers for a resounding triple play . . .”

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