This Sunday night, helmets will clash as the New York Giants face-off against the undefeated Carolina Panthers. The match-up, one that has football fans eager to witness history in the making as Carolina’s home team inches closer to a perfect season, is a high-stake match for both sides. While millions will tune in to see which quarterback leads his team to greatness — Will Smith probably won’t be watching.The former football dad hasn’t watched ‘a game this season,’ he revealed during a press conference for the highly-praised upcoming film Concussion.
Smith isn’t avoiding America’s beloved sport. ‘I think it is beautiful,’ he explained. ‘You can’t unsee the beauty.’
While he isn’t avoiding it, he admits it’s become much more ‘elaborate sport’ since he stepped into the role of Dr Bennet Omalu in the Peter Landesman-directed film that focuses on Bennet’s mission to publicize CTE — a neurodegenerative disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma.
‘You can’t not see the repetitive sub-concusive blows’ that occur when heads bump and bodies collide on the field, he said.
‘It’s the things that are happening off of the ball. The running back goes by, but behind him a guy falls and his head hits another guys knee. Seeing all of those things it makes it’s really double-sided, he revealed. ‘I’m seeing so many more things than I ever saw. It makes me respect the guys that much more. It definitely does change the game forever, when you have an understanding scientifically what happens when a brain collides with a skull.’
“The players have to take in the information and they have to play the games differently. One of the things that Bennet said was interesting, I never thought of it that way… You actually don’t want a helmet that makes you think you can slam your head into someone and because the equipment is so much better, it gives the illusion you’re protecting your brain. You’re actually protecting your skull but you’re actually putting yourself in a position where you can potentially do more damage to your brain because that helmet is so good.’
In 2015, a study revealed 87 out of 91 former NFL players tested positive for CTE. ‘It’s not just we have to change the rules on the field, there’s a culture that needs to change,’ David Morse, who portrays the late Mike Webster in Concussion, added.
Concussion is being hailed as a bonafide Oscar contender, with Will Smith a shoo-in for Best Actor.
Landesman, a man with a niche for David verses Goliath stories, ended the cast’s response with,
‘This was never designed to be a movie against anything. This is a movie that’s for something and that is really for discovering and investigation and truth and the consequences come what may.’
Concussion hits theaters on Christmas Day.