I saw a Frontline special a few years ago called League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis and it blew my mind. It told the story of a new brain disease called CTE that had been discovered in former football players and how the NFL tried to deny its existence. The special also talked about the man who discovered the disease, Dr. Bennet Omalu, and how the NFL had tried to discredit him. I was shocked to see that the same people who brought us Sunday Night Football could be so careless with it’s own players. I thought the world would be outraged.
I was wrong.
Football season kicked in and the NFL essentially went back to business as usual.
Concussion hits theaters Christmas Day and promises to tell the same story but will IT spark the outrage that the Frontline special did not?
According to The New York Times, we can thank Sony Pictures for this, as well as director Peter Landesman and even Will Smith, who PLAYS Dr. Omalu. They wanted to tell the story of CTE, but they were also very concerned about upsetting the NFL. They even tried to reach out to the NFL for input. Sony, Landesman and Will Smith’s representatives decided together to make Concussion more about the whistle-blower than the corrupt organization that was trying to hide his evidence. We know all of this because hackers unearthed the emails they passed back and forth and shared them with the world. You can read that whole story by clicking HERE, though Landesman and Sony say it’s completely misleading. They insist that any changes that were made to the writing didn’t alter the story and that it is still completely truthful.
Having seen Concussion, I can say that it tells a story similar to the Frontline special and that the NFL is still taken to task for ignoring the problem. The desire to protect the NFL has left Concussion without an ending, though. Members of the NFL seem like they’re ready to acknowledge CTE at the close of movie, but there is no mention of future changes or plans to help players who already have it. Concussion starts out like a cautionary tale, but it ultimately ends with a shrug of it’s shoulders.
It’s so disappointing because Concussion could have been a great movie. Will Smith does some of his best work in YEARS as Dr. Omalu, but it will be overshadowed by the controversy and his need to play it safe. Concussion could have possibly made a real difference and maybe even saved some lives. Instead, it becomes a mirror image of the exact kind of dishonesty it attacks and thats why I’m giving Concussion an F. You can read more about the devastating affects of CTE and how it has been found in 87 of the 91 deceased NFL players tested recently, by clicking HERE.