Will Smith stars as Bennet Omalu in “Concussion.” (Melinda Sue Gordon/Columbia Pictures)

Danny Kanell, the ESPN college football analyst and former Florida State and NFL quarterback, fired back at the scientist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased football players, saying, “The war on football is real.”

Kanell went on to say on Twitter that “concussion alarmists are loving it. Liberal media loves it. Doesn’t matter. It’s real.”

He was responding to an op-ed piece in the New York Times by Dr. Bennet Omalu, who is portrayed by Will Smith in the movie “Concussion” (trailers for it are omnipresent now, prior to its Christmas Day release). Omalu wrote that children should not be allowed to play contact sports like football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts and boxing until their brains have developed. He notes:

We are born with a certain number of neurons. We can only lose them; we cannot create new neurons to replenish old or dying ones.

In 2011, the two leading and governing professional pediatrics associations in the United States and Canada, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society, published a position paper recommending that children should no longer be allowed to engage in high-impact contact sports, exemplified by boxing, and willfully damage their developing brains.

Since then, researchers have independently confirmed that the play of amateur or professional high-impact contact sports is the greatest risk factor for the development of C.T.E. Where does society at large stand now, knowing what we know?

Kanell’s tweet generated conversation immediately.

Omalu concludes that “the human brain becomes fully developed at about 18 to 25 years old. We should at least wait for our children to grow up, be provided with the information and education on the risk of play, and let them make their own decisions. No adult, not a parent or a coach, should be allowed to make this potentially life-altering decision for a child.

“We have a legal age for drinking alcohol; for joining the military; for voting; for smoking; for driving; and for consenting to have sex. We must have the same when it comes to protecting the organ that defines who we are as human beings.”