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The upcoming Will Smith drama Concussion tells the story of a doctor who studies the effect of head trauma on the brains of professional football players. In a nation where football has become a major obsession, it was to be expected that the film would be controversial. On the eve of the movie’s release, though, an executive for the NFL Players Association has come out with unwavering support for the film, saying that it’s something "everyone in the NFL community should embrace."
George Atallah first watched the film in November and has since been working to get the film screened for as many of the organization’s members as possible. The NFLPA is over 12,000 people strong. At this point, hundreds of both current and former players have already seen the film. Atallah told The Hollywood Reporter that the issue of repetitive head trauma is something the NFLPA has been talking about for years, and that the film was an important part of getting this message out.
We’ve been telling the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu for the past five or six years as an organization. This was something our union was definitely going to recommend.
Atallah makes it sound like the film was going to be pushed even before anybody had seen it. It’s an understandable reaction, as the topic is potentially a vital one, regardless of the film’s quality. As to be expected, there have been some modifications to the actual story for dramatic purposes. When the film was shown to staff of the NFLPA, however, nobody seemed to take issue with the fictional changes. Because the film depicts several real life football players who were personally known to people within the Players Association, the changes were more than clear but also necessary.
Will Smith stars in the movie as Dr. Bennet Omalu. The movie tells the story of Omalu’s attempt to get the NFL to recognize his research in order to attempt to make the game safer. The movie has been accused of being anti-football, but Atallah does not hold that opinion. Instead, he is critical of the way the NFL has handled the issue. These comments echo those of the director, Peter Landesman, who says the movie is anti-NFL but not anti-football.
It looks like most current NFL players who have not already seen Concussion are interested in doing so. Although, George Atallah does admit that some are not interested. In some cases it’s because they are afraid of seeing an anti-football message, however, in others, it’s actually because the subject matter hits too close to home. It’s an understandable, if unfortunate, reaction.
For the rest of us, Concussion comes out Christmas Day. Are you looking forward to seeing it? Does the NFL Players Association endorsement affect your interest at all?