If you have ever watched professional football, you’ve noticed the repetitive collisions that most players endure. Not only are these collisions detrimental to the player’s acute health, but they have been known to impact their long term mental and physical health. The most important thing a football player needs is their sanity out on the field. Without it, they wouldn’t know right from left.
So, after numerous reports of head trauma were presented and exemplified in the media, the NFL began to underscore the dangers of playing contact football to protect their untarnished reputation. Soon enough, it seemed like the NFL was only protecting themselves, and not their players’ mental health.
The first report that sent up a major red flag to forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu was that of Mike Webster, age 50, former center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was found dead in his pickup truck after committing suicide. This report and other similar ones sparked the idea for the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith, as Omalu from Nigeria, who uncovered the secrets behind various star football players’ suicides.
After receiving eight degrees from several different colleges, Omalu began his practice in America and was given the task of figuring out Mike Webster’s cause of death. After analyzing his brain tissue, he discovered small abnormalities which were an indication of a degenerative disease which he named, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” or “CTE.”
He published his findings in a medical journal which the NFL initially disregarded. However, other notorious football players began to die younger and without cause. Most of them were having symptoms such as headaches, auditory and visual hallucinations, depression, manic episodes, memory loss, and dementia. Omalu decided to join forces with former Steelers doctor Julian Bailes in order to further establish his credibility. The two worked together to show the NFL the possible repercussions of head injuries from football.
The film received mostly positive feedback and, while this scandal happened over a decade ago, the story behind the making of the film opened the eyes of many. A lot of reviews centered on the fact that the film did not directly attack the NFL, but rather it critiqued their ways—or lack thereof— of expressing the dangers of playing football. The film most likely had a positive impact on football players today because it offered insight relating to the severity of a single (or several) concussions.