Some thoughts on the Concussion movie

I was invited to the Pittsburgh premiere of ‘Concussion’ on Tuesday, December 15th. It was a great evening to reconnect with my friend Dr. Bennet Omalu and see an issue we both care deeply about on the big screen.

The movie stars Will Smith as Bennet and he does a pretty spot-on accent. It chronicles the discovery and attempts from the NFL to defraud Bennet and his research. At the end it pays credit to the fact that the lawsuit made the movie possible.

I enjoyed the movie, but it’s very sensationalized for Hollywood. There were certain scenes with former players, now deceased due to CTE, that didn’t actually happen. If you want the full story, check out Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas. She wrote the ‘Game Brain’ article for GQ that inspired the movie. She wrote a book that accurately details everything, including the conversation Bennet and I had on my office that led to starting the NFL concussion litigation.

While the movie pays respect to the lawsuit, it doesn’t cover it, which is a little disappointing. The lawsuit was the tipping point with the NFL that changed the conversation about concussions. No one did anything when medical researchers discovered CTE. The disease was only acknowledged and taken seriously after the players took the sports leagues to court. Then everyone started paying attention.

This article from the American Association for Justice describes why civil action is the reason everyone is paying attention and it’s a very interesting report. It focuses on how the litigation forced action after years of ignoring the concussion issue.

At the end of the day, Concussion is good for making this issue more permanent with a film so people continue to pay attention to concussions and remember why it’s important to keep fighting.

I encourage everyone to see it when it opens Christmas day.