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Dark Reality of ‘Concussion’ Made Will Smith Question His Love for Football, NFL: ” I Just Didn’t Want to Believe Any of This”

Published 05/24/2022, 7:46 PM EDT

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Will Smith found the harsh truth behind football while reading the script for the film “Concussion.” Going through the script, Smith realized the deadly effects of concussions sustained by football players.

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Concussion talks about the discovery made by Dr. Bennet Omalu regarding the impact of concussions in developing deadly brain diseases. This knowledge was enough to challenge Smith’s long-held notions of what football was.


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It hit home even more since Smith’s eldest son, Trey, played football at Oaks Christian High School in Los Angeles, an exceptional football program in the state. Football also provided the father-son duo something to bond over.

Dr. Omalu’s research vs. the NFL’s response- How did Will Smith react?

More than a decade ago, Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered a deadly brain disease. He found that sub-concussive blows- minor hits, not concussions- generate chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

According to Smith, he didn’t want it to be true since he didn’t want to correlate the consequences of this research to his passion for football. He said, “I just didn’t want to believe any of this.


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While Omalu believed the NFL tried to cover up the discovery, Smith is of the opinion that the NFL went into survival mode after Omalu’s findings and “when our survival is at stake, we make bad decisions.”

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Smith further said, “The real enemy is the lack of information about how CTE works… I think the movie starts to change that.”

The NFL’s stance on contact and head injury

It is well known that the NFL has some of the biggest hits of any contact sport. Whether this is because of the presence of protective equipment or sheer bulk of the players or both, the magnitude of hits in the NFL is quite large.


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USA Today via Reuters

But it has taken some time for the management to bring about the required changes. According to the Frontline, former commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in 1994, “On concussions, I think is one of these pack journalism issues, frankly. … There is no increase in concussions, the number is relatively small.”

As per the Associated Press, the chairman of the Chicago Bears board, George McCaskey, recently praised the film for doing a service to football, saying, “The important part, I think, is that any attention on player health and safety is a good thing..”


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It remains to be seen how far the film leads to a change in attitude toward concussions in the NFL.

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Written by:

Prithwiraj Gupta


One take at a time

Prithwiraj Gupta is an NFL author at EssentiallySports. He has completed his Master's in History from Pune University. The contact aspect of the NFL made him interested in the sport.
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Edited by:

Deepika Bhaduri