Former Viking Esera Tuaolo is scheduled to be the celebrity chef for Beth El Synagogue’s “Inspiring Minds Series” featuring Dr. Bennet Omalu.

Omalu is the forensic pathologist who identified the degenerative disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in football players. The doctor is the subject of “Concussion,” the movie least welcomed by the NFL, starring Will Smith and opening at theaters Christmas Day.

Beth El’s evening with Omalu is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the synagogue in St. Louis Park.

“When we plan the receptions before the events, we try to identify a chef who speaks to the mission and message of the event,” Rabbi Avi Olitzky told me Thursday. “We are thrilled to be able to include a former football player, in light of the topic.” Tickets are available at www.besyn.org/concussion.

The Minnesota Brain Injury Alliance is collaborating with Beth El Synagogue to bring Omalu here.

The issue of concussions has become red-hot for the NFL, between this movie and the condemnation of football by others, including two University of Minnesota doctors who have called for the removal of football programs from all public schools because of head injury data. Pro football is the USA’s favorite professional sport.

Although I have been promised invitations to dining events thrown by Tuaolo — he once talked up a pig roast to me — I have never actually been invited to one of the parties. He and I have enjoyed a few meals at restaurants over the years.

In an interview earlier this year with Tuaolo, a singer whose NFL career also included playing for the Packers, Jaguars and Falcons, the retired nose guard told me he has lingering knee pain, which he believes is “creating chronic pain throughout my whole body.”

As for injuring his brain, Tuaolo said: “I got a lot of concussions, and I’m sure I gave a few. But that’s the profession. Playing a nose guard, you are never not getting hit. Of course, I am worried about that. The older I get, the more the body reacts differently. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and feel OK; sometimes it’s hard for me to walk. I try to stay positive about things.”

Tuaolo noted that the life expectancy of a lineman is 55. He’s in his late 40s.

 

C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.