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Should You See The New Concussion Movie With Will Smith?

football player on field like in the concussion movie

(Flickr – John Martinez Pavliga)

On Christmas Day the new Will Smith movie, Concussion, debuted. Before we spend the time and money on tickets to a movie that might treat football unfairly, we thought we’d round up some reviews and interviews to decide whether we should go to see Concussion. Something tells us this isn’t going to be another Rudy.

Should you see the new Concussion movie?

Concussion is a biopic about Dr. Bennett Omalu, who discovers chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or the accumulation of scar tissue on the brain, on football players. Concussion “is not banging a drum, but instead having an extended conversation about the worth of human life,” according to Forbes, in an article that says that the movie is “the football movie America needs.”

“…at its core, Concussion is about integrity. D. Omalu’s principles, grounded in his belief in God, America and the Hippocratic oath, lead him to fight. He fights for Mike Webster, because nobody else has. he fights the faux-purity projected by the NFL, because he knows real purity lay in truth. He fights in the face of harassment form an NFL player-turned-executive, who hauntingly works against his own self-interest.”

Similarly, Newsweek has great things to say about the movie, as does NPR. On the other hand, the New York Times has had some critical things to say about Concussion, but there’s a whole mess of politics that could factor into that, Deadline reports. And NFL players like Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz tell Philly.com that they’re going to avoid Concussion:

“It is what it is. I know the things that can occur to me playing this game. I don’t need a movie to spell it out for me.”

Our verdict: If you’re interested in watching a dramatization of a history that’s continuing to affect athletes in contact sports, check it out. What Concussion addresses affects student-athletes, families, coaches and sports fans – and we should get educated about it so we can take steps to protect ourselves while playing the game we love.

Will Smith says Concussion shouldn’t take away from our love of football.

In an interview on Morning Edition, Will Smith said that he is a lifelong football fan, and he was worried about making the film:

“I’m a football dad, grew up in Philly with my Eagles, and there was a part of me that did not want to be the guy who said playing football could cause brain damage,” Will Smith said. “It was tough for me to make that decision. I have a lot of friends who are players and owners. I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’.”

He loved watching his son play football, even going so far as to commute for ten weeks from Beijing to L.A. to watch his games. Similarly, the father of Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford told Philly.com that there’s not enough evidence yet for him to worry about his son:

“I think there’s still a lot of unknowns (with concussions). How many can a kid have? Is there such a thing as a mild one?

“Yeah, I do worry. But in the same light, he’s playing the sport he loves. And ultimately, it’s his call.”


Do you have questions about the safety of playing football in college? Let’s talk about it. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.