“Huh?” was my response when the local radio update featured a clip of Jose Baez, the lawyer of former Patriots’ tight end and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez, accusing the medical examiner’s office of holding Hernandez’ brain hostage and requested that the family’s wishes be honored by releasing the brain to Boston University for CTE analysis. Seemingly out of the loop, this is how I learned of Aaron Hernandez’ death by suicide a day before. Other than being surprised by the timing of his death–days after exoneration of a double homicide–and lamenting the tragic nature of Hernandez’ life and all parties involved in his drama, my response was due to learning that Boston University was in the game, as it were, for CTE research and diagnosis. “Well this is certainly elevating the school’s national status,” I recall thinking with pride.
A week and a half later, after reading Jeanne Marie Laskas’s Concussion (2015), I downgraded my assessment of Boston University’s connection with CTE research based on its association with one person featured in the book: Christoper Nowinski, a Harvard-educated, former WWE wrestler and co-founder of Boston University’s CTE Center. He is characterized as an attention-seeking opportunist and one of a long-list of individuals who attempted to rob Dr. Bennet Omalu of his spotlight in discovering CTE.
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