2015-12-22

Concussion – Powerful and Challenging

by Yo Snyder

I love the NFL. I‘ve been watching the Denver Broncos for pretty much all my life. However, after watching Concussion, I’m now rethinking my devotion to the NFL. Now don’t hear me wrong; I’ll still watch my Broncos, I’ll still watch football, but I’m rethinking just how much support and devotion I’ll show to the business of the NFL. Concussion is one of those rare movies that is not only powerful and emotional as a drama, but is one that may also have you rethinking how you approach some things in the real world. Anchored by a stupendous performance from Will Smith, Concussion entertains as much as it informs and challenges what we think we know about the NFL, and even some of the ideals of this nation we know as America.

Dr. Omalu was only trying to do his job, and he even thought he was being helpful in bringing to light the fact that football could prove life-threatening to those who play. He wanted nothing more for those who participate to know the truth, to know the risks they truly face in playing this game. Unfortunately, he came up against a harsh reality here in America; the rule of the almighty dollar. The NFL is big business, and anything that threatens that business had to be dealt with, and in this case, that meant Dr. Omalu. In a powerful scene he talks about how he find that very idea offensive, and by that point in the film, I couldn’t help but agree with him; the man only wanted to help, to save lives, and the idea that there would be those who are more concerned about business interests and the health and welfare of people is truly offensive. It’s revelations like this that could ultimately mar the NFL’s already shaky reputation, making for a unique case where a movie could end up having some real-world impact.

However it wasn’t the revelations about the NFL’s actions that I found most disturbing, but something else that’s mentioned in the movie. A friend of Dr. Omalu warns that he’s about to go up against a corporation that owns the day of the week; the same day, in fact, that used to be owned by the
Church. Sunday now belongs to the NFL. Now that got my attention, because it had me thinking about my own NFL habits. Do I still honor Sunday as the day our Heavenly Father set aside for worship and rest, or do I merely wait until I can get home to watch football? Who really owns my Sundays; God or the NFL. To be perfectly honest, I would have to say this movie was right; the NFL does own Sundays, and much to my shame, I let it.

Will Smith, however, owns this movie. He powerfully puts on display everything Dr. Omalu goes through from his confusion over why the NFL would not want his help, to his indignation that his work and reputation would try to be discredited in order to keep his findings hidden, to his despair over what seemed like being punished for just trying to do the right things. It’s an emotional tour de force, and helps create a film that his powerful and haunting, especially for anyone with passion for the game of football. Now, I know everyone is going to see Star Wars over the Christmas break, but once you’ve seen that, take the time to see Concussion. Not only will you see one of the great performances of the year, but you’ll also walk away challenged and informed about one of the biggest businesses and the most popular sport in America.

Score: 6 of 7
Concussion is a powerful and thought provoking film, and it can be uncomfortable to watch at times because of the subject matter it covers. However, if you don’t mind being put through the emotional wringer, it’s also a movie that should not be missed, especially for fans of the NFL. There some rough language, and some uncomfortable autopsy scenes, but it also interestingly deals a lot with how faith and science can inform and even support each other.