January 10, 2016 4 Comments
I was witness to two big events in the world of professional American Football this weekend: I watched the movie Concussion and I saw the ugly contest which was the Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati NFL playoff game.
Of the two events, the more damning, the more worrisome for the league, was the playoff game.
First, let me start with the movie, as I had intended on focusing on that in this blog post….until the playoff game happened.
The movie was well done overall, I thought. I am no movie critic (I hope that goes without saying) and I rarely see things on the ‘Big Screen’ any more–I think the great movies came and went in the 60’s and 70’s, when I was growing up (Easy Rider, The Deerhunter, Apocalypse Now….). Concussion (the movie) is largely a heroic story about one man’s personal struggle and vindication: Dr. Bennet Omalu vs. the NFL, David vs. Goliath. There are some typical Hollywood moments (e.g. the romancing of his future wife), but largely the film stays on track regarding the story of pathologist Dr. Omalu and his reintroduction of the term ‘chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)’ into the medical lexicon after his autopsy on the brain of the deceased football player, ‘Iron’ Mike Webster.
And Will Smith does an excellent job, I think, with his portrayal of Omalu.
I approached this movie not so much looking for entertainment, but to see if there were anything new in this story I might learn, and to see how the movie might present the science to the general viewing public. I don’t think I learned anything new regarding the basic story. This is not so much a criticism of the movie as an endorsement of the PBS documentary, ‘League of Denial,’ which came out two years ago and went into much more depth than a dramatization ever could. And as for the science? Once again, you’re better served viewing the documentary. You won’t have to hear a clunker of a line like this: “Three cases is the scientific burden of evidence. We have four.”
Now, on to the playoff game.
I don’t think the NFL will be able to survive if the sorts of hits occurring in this game, regardless of their ‘legality,’ continue. Read more of this post