Will Smith’s new movie Concussion is slated for release in the U.S. on Christmas Day this year. In Concussion, 46-year-old Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born forensic neuropathologist. According to the Daily Mail, Dr. Omalu’s research showed a link between football players suffering injuries to the head and early-onset Alzheimer’s or dementia.
According to the Guardian, Smith is already being tipped as an Oscar winner for his role in the movie. Smith details the struggles that Dr. Omalu had with the NFL, who allegedly did everything in their power to discredit his research. Smith lays bare the obstacles that the NFL put in Omalu’s path as he tried to prove what has been described as a “ticking time-bomb” for football at all levels of the sport.
Alec Baldwin stars alongside Smith as a doctor helping Omalu to bring his research to light. Concussion shows the NFL in a poor light as they allegedly struggled to cover up the effects that head and brain injuries have on football players later in life. Omalu’s research eventually lead to the NFL being forced to settle a class action lawsuit earlier this year. Retired NFL players sued, accusing the NFL of not warning players and hiding the damages of brain injury.
The retired players won the action and secured “monetary awards for diagnoses of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia and certain cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE (a neuropathological finding) diagnosed after death.”
It is unlikely that the NFL will welcome being put under the microscope of public scrutiny once more, especially in a movie starring such a high profile star as Will Smith.
The official trailer for Smith’s new movie was released yesterday and it will make uncomfortable viewing for NFL officials as the sport gears up for the new season. The trailer shows Omalu (Smith) being told that he is “going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week.”
Concussion is described as an old-fashioned hard hitting drama with shadowy figures, powerful men and lawyers going all out to silence Smith’s character, a passionate truth seeker.
Smith has received criticism in some quarters for his Nigerian accent, but Will’s powerful portrayal of Omalu will be uncomfortable viewing for the NFL, especially as it is due for release just as the season goes into the playoffs.
Whilst Will Smith may be an early tip for the Oscars, Concussion is sure to bring yet more scrutiny on an organization struggling with its image in the wake of this class action lawsuit, drug abuse, and domestic violence scandals that have rocked the sport in recent times.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]