To say America loves football would be a colossal understatement. The game is of major importance to the culture of the nation. This is part of why Will Smith’s movie Concussion has been so controversial for months, even though it was only released last week. A movie that focuses on the dark side of the National Football League is bound to take some of the shine off the entertainment that the nation is so passionate about. At least one person has spoken out about how the movie has made it difficult to watch games now, and that's the movie’s star, Will Smith.
Smith has been very public about his love of football, which is part of why his comments are a big deal. While it’s one thing to have a general understanding of the damage that the game can do to players, it’s quite another to look those issues dead in the eye as the movie tries to do. Smith told Yahoo Movies that he has only had the briefest glimpses of games this season, after making the movie.
I haven’t seen a whole game. I walk through the airport and I’ll see something, or I’ll see a play on the news. It’s really stressful now. It definitely created a conflict for me. It’s still beautiful, it’s still America’s favorite game. That doesn’t change at all. It just has another side, that once you see and once you know and once you understand, you can’t not see.
Smith’s love for football goes beyond the NFL. He has spoken about how he traveled across an ocean several weekends in a row in order to watch one his son’s play in high school. At the same time, he has said that his passion for the game, and being a parent of a player, was one of the reasons he felt a responsibility to do the movie in the first place.
The movie tells the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the doctor, played by Smith, who discovered CTE, and its connection to repetitive head trauma. While some who made the film have been more than candid about their feelings regarding the NFL’s attempt to discredit the research, Smith has been a bit more even-handed. He says that "fear" is the real enemy of the film, and that those within the NFL were simply scared or misinformed about the situation.
While the NFL certainly has not supported the film, the NFL’s Player’s Association has. The film had several screenings for players prior to its general release and Sony has offered free admission to members of the NFLPA during the film’s entire theatrical run.
Have you seen Concussion? And if so, has it impacted your own ability to watch football? Let us know in the comments below.