Mars, Pennsylvania high school senior John Castello was offered Football Championship Subdivision scholarships from schools such as Delaware, James Madison, Holy Cross, New Hampshire, Lafayette and Bucknell and his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame surely would have made the tight end a worthy addition to any roster. But after taking Smith’s latest chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) drama–the same film that spawned Oscar snub hysteria–the 18-year-old has had a change of heart when it comes to the game of football altogether.
“The head injuries were a huge reason for my decision,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve liked both football and basketball for some time. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do. Then, that movie Concussion came out and some interviews came out. I watched one interview with Dr. Omalu where he was talking about [former Steelers center] Mike Webster. After watching that, I said it’s not worth it.”
Knowing what the weight his decision would hold on his future, he still offered up sound reasoning for saying no to the pigskin, “Yeah, it would be free college. But your whole life is in jeopardy. You’re putting your body in harm’s way every single week. It was definitely a tough choice, but I think I made the right choice.”
Castello will now pursue basketball as his sport of choice. His stats on the hardwood mirror his success on the field as well. After averaging a double-double for his squad and tallying more than 1,000 points and rebounds for his career, he was awarded a basketball scholarship offer from nearby Division II Shippensburg University.
Released this past Christmas, Concussion wasn’t exactly the box office draw and NFL rabble-rouser the studio had hoped for (it fell $1 million shy of recouping its $35 million budget) but the movie has since raised suspicion of CTE cases in deceased professional athletes. Late NHL enforcer Todd Ewen was recently cleared of being inflicted with the brain disease following his September 2015 suicide and a similar investigation is being centered around BMX legend Dave Mirra, after he took his own life on February 4.