The second ‘true story’ film you may have missed during the holidays which is well worth the watch is ‘Concussion’. Will Smith gives an Oscar worthy performance, really the best performance of his life as a Nigerian doctor living in Pittsburgh who discovers CTE– the brain disease caused by repeated head trauma. Like ‘the Big Short’ this movie is an expose film, telling the true story that the NFL tried to bury, cover up, and deny, namely that the violent game of football is killing it’s star athletes, many of whom: 1) go crazy; 2) commit suicide; 3) destroy their own families; 4) go bankrupt, and all because of the brain disease caused by repeated trauma to the head. Turns out that the brain does not have a seat belt or cushion protecting it from such head trauma, it simply is a football shaped item surrounded by a liquid, unlike the brains of various other creatures, like woodpeckers who are physically built to take repeated trauma with no ill effects.
The story centers around Dr. Bennett Omalu a coroner and forensic pathologist brilliantly played by Will Smith, whom honestly, I never knew he had that accent and that acting in it. See the interview here……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUJPxeIISho
Dr. Omalu, like his soon to be wife are both Nigerian Christians, and as Christians they want the truth to be told. The other center to the film is the story of several Pittsburgh Steelers, in the first instance Iron Mike Webster whom Omalu dissected and first discovered the brain disease in. Alex Baldwin is also excellent in this film as Dr. Julius Bales who once was a doctor for the Steelers, but eventually became convinced by the evidence Omalu unearthed. See here the the report of what happened…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p17cTTHteY4
I quite agree with the diagnosis of this film which portrays Dr. Omalu, and his helpers and his wife as American heroes. Heroes tell the truth, and there is an inspiring story in the midst of this disturbing story. More to the point there is a Christian passion for truth in this story, a passion the Omalus model, which is refreshing to see. Mrs. Omalu was right— God placed Bennett where he did to discover the disease and shine a light in the darkness of denial and lying. Thank goodness there are now 10,000 less children a year being allowed to play this game.
Is their a solution to this problem short of disbanding the game. Possibly. But it would involve serious changes to the game. It would require: 1) no more coaching of players to use launching or hitting techniques instead of tackling. The game was once called tackle football, not hit football. That’s what it should be which should involve techniques that do not do blunt forced trauma to human heads. 2) the game would need to morph more in the direction of rugby, which would mean NO METAL HELMETS which can be used as weapons; 3) it would require penalties for any tackles above the waist! 4) it would require ejections of players who don’t abide by the tackling rules. And this is only for starters. I don’t suppose we can go to touch football, but some big changes are needed to make the game much safer— and concussion protocols after the fact are not sufficient, nor is the occasional penalty for targeting.