The People

Christopher Nowinski
Author, Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis
Former WWE Wrestler, Former All-Ivy Football Player, Concussion Activist
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After an All-Ivy football career at Harvard, Nowinski became one of the most hated characters in World Wrestling Entertainment. He debuted on WWE's flagship program Monday Night RAW in 2002, where he was named "Newcomer of the Year" by RAW Magazine and was the youngest male Hardcore Champion in WWE history before a concussion forced him to retire in 2004.

Diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, Chris began a quest to better understand this condition, and after meeting Dr. Robert Cantu, Chris realized that a lack of awareness about brain trauma among athletes, coaches, and even medical professionals cost him his career, and threatened the health and well-being of athletes of all ages. This led him to write the critically acclaimed book Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, published in 2006, in an effort to educate parents, coaches, medical professionals and children about this serious public health issue.

Through his continued advocacy and investigative work, Chris has raised this issue into the national consciousness and changed how sports are played. Chris and his team’s research has been featured in media outlets like The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, ESPN, CNN, Fox, TSN, NPR, and more. His profile in May 2007 by HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel won the Emmy for Sports Journalism, a second episode aired in January of 2010, and a third in August of 2010.

Today Chris serves on the National Football League Players Association Mackey/White TBI Research Committee and on the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of America. He was a finalist for Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 2010, named a 2011 Eisenhower Fellow, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience at Boston University School of Medicine.

Chris’ leadership in this field has made him a sought-after voice for awareness, and since 2006 he has shared his story and work nearly 200 times for corporations, medical conferences, schools, and sports organizations around the world. Chris Nowinski is the co-founder and president of the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to solve the sports concussion crisis, and serves as a co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University School of Medicine.

Alan Schwarz
Associate Producer
Pulitzer-Prize Nominated New York Times Reporter
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Alan Schwarz is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporter at The New York Times best known for writing more than 100 articles that exposed the seriousness of concussions among football players of all ages. His investigative and profile pieces are generally credited with revolutionizing the respect and protocol for head injuries in almost every major youth and professional sport. Schwarz's work was profiled in an early 2011 issue of the New Yorker and was described by one Hall of Fame sports writer, Murray Chass, as “the most remarkable feat in sports journalism history.” The Times promoted him to National Correspondent for Education in July 2011.

Schwarz's series on football concussions began in January 2007 with a front-page Times story on brain damage found in former Philadelphia Eagle Andre Waters, who recently had committed suicide at the age of 44. (The exact name of the disease is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), an incurable and progressive disorder in which protein deposits gradually compromise brain function.) After gathering steam with profiles of current and retired players suffering from post-concussion syndrome and early-onset dementia, the series put concussions on the front burner of football debate and evolved to examine not just N.F.L. issues but the dangers of head trauma in high school and other youth sports, like girls' soccer and basketball. Subsequently, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee devoted three hearings to the issue of sport-related brain injuries, repeatedly citing Schwarz's work during them.

In November and December 2009, under significant legislative and public pressure, the N.F.L. ended its denials of the long-term risks of football: It revamped its rules regarding concussion management, suspended its study of retired players' cognitive decline which Schwarz had exposed as improperly designed, and accepted the resignations of the two co-chairmen of a league committee that had conducted questionable research. The N.F.L. also began running the first public service announcement warning young athletes about the dangers of concussions. Following this, state legislatures all over the nation began enacting statutes to require education and stronger rules to keep young athletes safer.

In 2010, a major investigative piece by Schwarz evidenced what were called glaring lapses in the safety testing of football helmets among players of all ages. The story prompted an investigation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the introduction of bills in both houses of Congress covering football helmet safety and a call for inquiry by the Federal Trade Commission for false and misleading advertising by manufacturers.

In 2011, in another development in the concussion space, Schwarz covered how "former Bears star Dave Duerson sent text messages asking that his brain tissue be tested for C.T.E. before shooting himself in the chest." Duerson was later found by Boston University researchers to have had the disease.

Keith Primeau
Former All-Star NHL Player
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When Keith Primeau hit the ice for his final year of junior with the Niagara Falls Thunder in 1989-90, he brought his flaming stick along as he finished the year atop the OHL in goals scored and total points.

As part of a talented crop of recruits in 1990, he was selected 3rd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL Entry Draft that included Jaromir Jagr, Owen Nolan, and Martin Brodeur.

But Primeau's debut with the Red Wings was rocky. Some consider him to have been an underachiever during his six seasons in the Motor City. Others, however, point out that he was often forced to play out of position, as a winger. As a natural centreman, he also had to queue up behind Federov and Yzerman for ice time.

But Primeau stuck with the program, and gradually established himself as a solid, third-line centreman. He was quite happy with his situation until the Wings brought in Igor Larionov, a move that effectively bumped Primeau farther down the centremen's pecking order. For him, the move was unacceptable. He became a holdout until the club traded him to the Hartford Whalers in 1996.

In Harford, Primeau was finally free to become more of a front-line warrior. By the time the Whalers transferred to Carolina, he had established himself as a strong skating giant with soft hands. In more recent years, he has been characterized as one of the league's best forwards who is not necessarily the best at any one thing in particular.

After three seasons in the Hartford/Carolina organization, Primeau was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyres in the summer of 1999. Prior to joining the Flyers, Primeau suited up Canada's Olympic Team at the 1998 Nagano Games. Upon his arrival in Philly, Primeau has fit in nicely, playing the tough, well-balanced brand of hockey that Flyers fans have come to appreciate.

During the 2003-04 season, Primeau was instrumental in leading the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final, while reaching the 900-game and the 600-point plateau.

Following a lock out year, Primeau suffered a concussion nine games into the 2005-06 NHL regular season which brought his season to an abrubt end. Due to the ongoing post-concussion syndrome, Primeau would officially annouce his retirement from hockey in September of 2006.

Cindy Parlow Cone
Former Professional Soccer Player & Olympian
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Cindy Parlow is a retired American professional soccer player. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, where she attended Germantown High School (Germantown, Tennessee). She is the daughter of Larry and Josephine Parlow. She played college soccer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a four-time All-American and member of three teams that won the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship. She won the Hermann Trophy as outstanding female collegiate soccer player twice, in 1997 and 1998, and the ACC Female Athlete of the Year in 1999.

She began training with the U.S. Women's National Team in March 1995, making her first appearance (and scoring her first goal) in a January 14, 1996 friendly against Russia. She started all six games for the United States during their 1999 World Cup victory, scoring two goals. She was also a member of the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic teams, as well as the 2003 Women's World Cup team.
She was a founding member of the Women's United Soccer Association, and played for the Atlanta Beat, helping her team reach the playoffs in each of the league's three seasons of operation (2001–2003).

On July 30, 2006, she announced her retirement from international play, citing post-concussion syndrome. She concluded her career with 158 caps (the ninth most in United States Women's National team history) and 75 goals (fifth best).

Additional Appearances By

  • Bob Costas – Award Winning Sports Journalist
  • Isaiah Kacyvenski – Former NFL Player
  • Brendan Shanahan – NHL Vice President; Former All-Star NHL Player
  • Robert Cantu, MD – Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery; Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine
  • Ann McKee, MD – Professor of Neurology & Pathology; Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine
  • Robert Stern, PhD – Professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery; Co-Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine
  • Hunt Batjer, MD – Co-Chair NFL Head, Neck & Spine Injury Committee
  • Gary Dorshimer, MD – Head Team Physician; Philadelphia Flyers & Phantoms, Team Internist; Philadelphia Eagles
  • Ruben Echemendia, PhD – NHL Concussion Committee Chairman
  • Douglas Smith, MD – Director, Center for Brain Injury and Repair; University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
  • Steven Galetta, MD – Van Meter Professor of Neurology & Ophthalmology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
  • Laura Balcer, MD, MSCE – Professor of Neurology, Neuro-Ophthalmology and Epidemiology; University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
  • Christina Master, MD – Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics; University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Eric Laudano, M.H.S., A.T.C. – Head Athletic Trainer and Manager; University of Pennsylvania
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