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In 2015 Director Peter landesman wrote the movie Concussion which was released on December 23. The movie stars Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Luke Wilson and many more. Concussion is a football movie which goes against all other football based movies. Reviews of this movie state that if you don’t like sport-based movies, try to look beyond the sport as a part of the storyline and plot as this movie is a great one.
Concussion describes itself as “the movie the NFL doesn’t want you to see”. As a movie it goes against the grain of its genre (drama and sports).
Dr. Omalu who is played by Will Smith is a cheerful, religious man. The Nigerian-born immigrant became a doctor in forensic pathologist, based in Pittsburgh. During the performance of an autopsy on a retired football player named Mike Webster, a hall of famer who played for the Pittsburgh Steeler, Dr. Omalu discovers a new and terrifying brain disorder that he named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.
Before Mike Webster’s death, he was known as an American football hero and his death shocked many people. Before death, he starts to lose his mind rapidly and suffers from depression and dementia before dying at the young age of 50 years old. After Mike Webster retires from football, we find him living in his pick up truck inhaling turpentine; a clear indication that his life has reached an all-time low. Another player who is suffering a similar fate, comes together with Mike. This results in them trying to help eachother out, as neither of them understand what they are going through and as a result they both try to get to the bottom of it.
This is where doctor Omalu steps in and figures out that the persistent head injuries sustained in playing football have led to a shaking up of the brain. Dr. Omalu continues to explain that mammals have built-in shock absorbers to prevent this, but humans are one of the only exceptions. As a result of the injury to the brain, humans end up releasing a protein that builds up, causing memory loss, hallucinations, and a significant amount of trauma.
To make his point clear he shakes an egg inside a glass which mimics how the brain moves around inside the skull. Omalu thinks the NFL players will be glad of his finding. The movie depicts Dr. Omalu’s life and how he has very little to no social life due to his devotion to work and his involvement in the church. The NFL actively undermined Omalu’s findings to protect its virtue.
Read a more in-depth summary of the movie here.
Some of the reviews of the movie from retired and/or current NFL players are shocking. A lot of the NFL players believed this movie to be an eye opening and accurate portrayal of the game of football. They believed that Concussion is an accurate representation of the men who play football and the risks they take for their sport.
“I watch this movie and I know we were paid to hurt people,” said Keith McCants, the fourth overall pick in the 1990 draft. “We were paid to give concussions. If we knew that we were killing people, I would have never put on the jersey.”
The movie also reveals corruption within the The National Football League, comparing it to tobacco companies and mass corporations known for prioritising profit over health. Throughout the movie, The National Football League failed to acknowledge the brain damage and long term side effects that the players were experiencing. Books have been written addressing the NFL and their lack of safety for the players. But it wasn’t until Concussion that they have had no other choice but to fix their health and safety crisis. After all, a movie based on their failures had now hit the big screen.
Most stories, myths and legends, including movies, are based on something that is real to some extent. It seems that this movie is in fact based of the lives of NFL players and how they are constantly suffering from injuries such as head trauma that have long term effects. This is the result of the sport. When football players play this sport, they know what they are signing up for.
The movie Concussion is also accurate in depicting the lives of the NFL players it showcases in the movie. The Hall of Fame footballer Mike Webster did in fact live in his pickup truck over a course of 18 months to 2 years. The movie is, of course, dramatised and it implied that NFL football players take blows with a force of 100 g’s. This is over exaggerated. Nevertheless, according to a study published by the University of Oklahoma NFL footballers experience blows from around sixty to ninety g’s (resulting in footballers being knocked out).
This movie shows that chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, was discovered through the likes of american football and boxing. The movie is factual when it documents how in 2005 a pathologist called Bennet Omalu discovered through an autopsy of a former American football player, Mike Webster, that a protein spread throughout his brain which was the result of the ex-footballer suffering from dementia.
I think that Concussion is a movie for everyone to watch regardless of its genre. The movie opens your mind to the life of footballers resulting in more respect for the game. I am in no way shape or form a football fan but from watching this movie I gained knowledge, admiration and appreciation for the sport and its players.