'Concussion' Author on NFL: "It's Sort of Like the Tobacco Industry"

Courtesy of CBS
Jeanne Marie Laskas

Both Jeanne Marie Laskas' book and GQ article on Dr. Bennet Omalu inspired the film starring Will Smith.

Before Concussion became a motion picture, it was a GQ article and later a book, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, highlighting the discoveries of Dr. Bennet Omalu between NFL players and their similarities in head trauma. Laskas appeared on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, where she told Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell that there hasn't been significant change from the NFL since she published the article in 2009.

"They haven't changed dramatically since then," said Laskas. "There's been a systematic, I think, effort to discredit not just Bennet's research but other researchers who are finding CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in football players."

Laskas said that the NFL's first reaction to Bennet's findings was to write a letter to the Journal of Neurosurgery asking the doctor to retract his research, calling it "bad science." The author stressed that Bennet never wanted to harm the NFL but simply be "helpful" in telling the public what he found.

"The NFL, it's sort of like the tobacco industry," said Laskas. "Did the tobacco industry really want to say you know what, this is bad for you?"

When Rose commented that NFL scientists had found the number of concussions were decreasing, Laskas countered, stating that the public needs to hear from independent scientists who aren't tied to the NFL, and who don't have a stake in the game.

"I quarrel with those studies," responded Laskas. "I think the NFL needs to get out of the scientist business. … Let's hear from the independent scientists, not from the NFL. Would we want to hear from the tobacco industry what cigarettes are doing to us?"

Laskas, however, admits she loves football like any other fan.

"I'm not against the NFL. I'm not trying to take down the NFL. I love football. I love the game, but honestly all of us are complicit in this as fans and the NFL kind of steering us. We're not getting this information."

Following Laskas' comments, Norah O'Donnell read a statement the NFL sent to CBS This Morning.

"We welcome any conversation about player health and safety. … The NFL has made numerous changes to the game to enhance player health and safety at all levels of football. … These include nearly 40 rule changes in the last decade, strict concussion protocols, and better training and sideline medical care."

Watch the full interview below. 

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