Concussion hit with a whip lash

Joseph Krum, Managing Editor

To say that I walked out of movie theater No. 6 at the Grapevine Mills with a completely changed mind was an understatement.

Peter Landesman’s Concussion came with a slap in the face. As I watched the two hour film, I came to realize the horrors football can bring.

I mainly wanted to see Concussion just because it seemed to be another quality Will Smith movie that might have a few interesting facts about concussions. When I saw former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster (David Morse) living out of his car by the railroad tracks trying to suffocate himself, I realized that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, and concussions are a whole lot bigger than just a game.

In the film, Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith) has the duty of performing the autopsy on Webster, a four-time Super Bowl champion. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Webster within the first general autopsy, so he performed an examination on the brain, which he revealed the CTE disease.

After he was shut down by the NFL for his findings, Omalu kept on fighting to prove his findings true to hopefully help save the lives of future NFL players.

As the movie was coming to an end, one staggering fact popped up on the screen that really made me rethink my view on football:

Twenty-four percent of NFL players will develop CTE.

At first, I thought that was a little bit of a stretch. I mean, there’s no way that almost one in every four players could develop this progressive degenerative disease that destroys the brain.

As a football player myself, I really started to re-examine the dangers of football with concussions. I was badly concussed the spring break of my seventh grade year, so I have always been careful with my head. My mother has never been too excited of me playing football since she realizes the risks that the sport can have.

Thinking back to my concussion and how it was just one blow to the head that sent me to the hospital, the most interesting fact  in the movie is that necessarily the “knockout blows” that are the worst. The repetitive knocks to the head area and the constant batter of the brain can be the true demons behind CTE.

One of the smaller points that was made throughout the movie is the center position, played by Webster, is the  most at risk position since the player uses his head almost spear-like every single play.

I have played center all throughout pee wee football, through middle school and up to sophomore year of high school. I can speak from experience that the constant blows to the head can be dangerous, and it seems almost the worst in practice.

Overall, the film brought light to a recent discovery that shook the whole football world. Many parents and even former NFL players themselves, such as former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, are now growing very weary of the possibility of their sons playing football. Aikman said that if he had sons, he “would probably not be really excited” about them playing since it can lead to this disease. The film also showed the struggle of Dr. Omalu to publish his findings, and the fact that many people are now scared of his findings. And finally, the film showed that head injuries and concussions are much bigger than just a game.

Concussion not only has changed my perspective on football but in life itself. I realize now that life is too precious to risk it by playing a game if it all comes down to it. Although I will not necessarily quit playing football all together, it was nice to get grounded and realize the dangers of the sport we all love.