Listen, I am a huge fan of the NFL. I watch it every single week. It generates tons of revenue from every way you can imagine – from tickets, to television, to merchandise to revenue generated inside of sports bars, etc. I watch it for the excitement of the game and for fantasy football and for the hits that some of these players lay on each other. I still remember very vividly the hit that Sean Taylor put on a punter in the Pro Bowl in 2006. That video has hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. Then we hear about CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, which was discovered by Dr. Bennet Omalu. You can do your own research about the disease, so let’s get to the movie.
Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist from Nigeria. Dr. Omalu is the man that is credited with discovering CTE. He was conducting autopsies and came across the body of Mike Webster. Mike Webster played for the Steelers and Chiefs from 1974 to 1990 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990. He died 2 years later and his cause of death was first ruled to be cardiac arrest. That was until Dr. Omalu tested his brain and paid for testing to be done out of his own pocket. It was then he realized that there was another cause of death and that this could turn into something big.
Dr. Omalu was attacked and told that he was wrong and was even threatened with a lawsuit. The NFL knew that if this was substantiated then there would be a big issue. The new commissioner of the league, Roger Goodell (Luke Wilson) didn’t want to hear anything about it. When he agreed that the information could be shared at an owners meeting, he wouldn’t even let Dr. Omalu speak to it. Instead, he had Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin) speak to the group. He was the former physician for the Steelers and that is who Goodell chose to speak to the crowd. The NFL basically brushed off the finding. They did that until the list of former players that were dying from the disease continued to grow. They had no choice and former NFL players (about 4,500 of them) filed a lawsuit that was settled.
Fans are not going to stop watching the game, but there is a decline in the amount of kids that are being allowed to play by their parents at younger ages. If research is not your thing, then you should see this film to get the summary and then do some fact checking yourself. Back in September, a CTE research was carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University. The study found that 87 out of 91 players had the disease. The stat that stands out to me is that it is estimated by Dr. Omalu that Mike Webster took around 70,000 hits to his head during his playing time. Think about the offensive and defensive linemen that take violent hits on nearly every play.
As I stated earlier, Concussion is a film that should been seen by all. If you don’t want to see it based on the subject matter then you should do your own research – especially if you are a parent. Is this really a sport that you want your child to be playing? Will Smith was absolutely phenomenal in this film. His role should garner a lot of attention for awards and he has already been nominated for a Golden Globe. Do yourself a favor and see this film.