Are We Focusing Too Much Attention On Football Concussions?

For months now, controversy has followed “Concussion,” the highly anticipated film about the NFL’s concussion crisis, starring Will Smith.

The film, which will be released on Christmas day, traces the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith), the Nigerian forensic pathologist who discovered the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Pittsburgh Steelers legend Mike Webster after he died. Omalu assumed he would be celebrated for his discovery, which he believed made plain the dangers of football, but soon found himself at odds with a powerful organization that tried to discredit him.

Questions have continued to emerge about the film’s accuracy ever since a September story in The New York Times suggested Sony Pictures Entertainment softened the film to avoid conflict with the NFL — a claim “Concussion” director Peter Landesman has repeatedly denied. Just last week, The Times published another story about “Concussion,” this one about the family of former NFL player Dave Duerson, who believe the movie misrepresents Duerson’s story; the Associated Press quoted researchers who claim Omalu took too much credit for the discovery of CTE.

Omalu himself has told The Huffington Post that he believes the film to be accurate, as did Jeanne Marie Laskas, the journalist whose 2009 GQ article about Omalu became the basis for the film, and Julian Bailes, the neurosurgeon who fought to have Omalu’s research recognized. “The basic facts are correct,” said Bailes, who is played by Alec Baldwin in the film.

Arguments like these over the movie’s finer points will likely never be settled — Bailes admitted that filmmakers did take some small artistic liberties — but what is less up to debate is this: Today, neuroscientists increasingly have a sense that the very injury that titles the film — the —> Read More