By Desire Thompson
The trailer for Will Smith’s new film about the discovery of the NFL’s concussion controversy has arrived merely a few weeks before the league’s fall season is set to begin.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated-affiliated site Monday Morning Quarterback released the first look at Concussion Monday morning. Directed by Peter Landesman, the film will focus on Nigerian neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Smith), who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Dr. Omalu found the disease, also known as CTE, after working on the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster. CTE is the progressive degenerative brain disease that athletes can acquire thanks to repetitive head trauma on the field.
The book and documentary, League of Denial, already told Omalu’s story and the battle he faced in bringing CTE to the NFL’s attention. But Landesman says the film will dive into more of the story, and explore the doctor’s determination in pushing the condition to the forefront of the sports world. He also noted that the project isn’t anti-NFL.
“It’s the dynamic of, ‘Respect the person or respect the truth,’” he said. “Bennett has a savant-like relationship to the dead. His obsession is to tell the story of death. As he says in the movie, I think more about the way people die and reasons they die than the way they live. He was completely focused on the science. He didn’t know football, he didn’t know who Mike Webster was; to him, Webster was just another body on a slab. He didn’t have a reverence for the game because he wasn’t brought up in this country. So in some ways, his purity and his innocence was a requirement for him to drill down into this and tell us a very uncomfortable and inconvenient truth.”
Concussion will be released in theaters on Christmas Day.