The first trailer for the forthcoming Will Smith vehicle “Concussion” landed on Monday. Peter King included it in his MMQB piece.
I’ve watched it several times and have seen the attention-grabbing headlines that have taken over social media and entertainment/sports websites.
Many of these headlines include some variation of the “Movie that the NFL doesn’t want you to see” mantra.
Anybody who has been interested in this story knows the particulars. Right down to efforts to suppress information and kick the proverbial can down the road. Before America was roped into the lunacy of “DeflateGate” (I so hate that term) and the other off-field issues afflicting the league, the discussion of the debilitating effects of CTE was front and center.
Countless articles were written about changes within the game and how safety concerns could chase future participants from football. And, we watched as a large settlement was ordered in the class-action lawsuit.
I don’t know that the dramatization of Dr. Bennet Omalu’s efforts to educate players, the public and the league about his discovery of CTE will move the needle and create the backlash and pressure points for the NFL that some anticipate. Will Smith’s portrayal of Dr. Omalu gives a face to the discussion, and the trailer certainly offers a “cloak and dagger”/thriller feel to it. So, Smith’s star power will get people into theaters to some degree and could get him some attention come award season.
But, how much do people want to be reminded about this topic, particularly at the holidays (it will be released on Christmas Day)? They’ll have the unofficial opening to the NBA season to watch and will flock to theaters for that little vehicle called “Star Wars.”
Numerous columns have already broken out about how Sony altered the storytelling to avoid angering the NFL. There’s been talk of how certain elements would have been cleared legally, but that the doctors and/or the NFL might have raised issue with “artistic license.”
Director Peter Landesman responded to the New York Times.
It’s an important subject to be tackled, and you can circle back to League of Denial for a primer.
The NFL issued this response to the trailer:
“We are encouraged by the ongoing focus on the critical issue of player health and safety. We have no higher priority. We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago. As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer.”