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  • Movie as Game-Changer: Opinions Vary on How 'Concussion' May or May Not Affect the NFL

    Concussion has been released—and with it, a wave of opinions on whether the film about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among National Football League (NFL) players will make a difference in how the league, and society at large, view sports that involve high-impact body contact.

    The movie, which opened on December 25, stars Will Smith as forensic pathologist Bennett Omalu and chronicles Omalu's battle with the NFL to bring attention to CTE and its relationship to repeated head injury.

    And while there were plenty of reviews of the movie itself, even more media attention was focused on what the film had to say about the NFL, the sport of football, America's passion for the game, and the chances that a big-budget movie would spark any meaningful change that would reduce injury. Here's a quick rundown of some of the reactions published recently.

    • "CTE, and the prevalence of the disease among the young, however, has given [the NFL] a PR nightmare. And Concussion is likely to worsen the public's perception of the game." Newsweek: "Concussion: Can a Will Smith Movie Change the Way America Views Football?"
    • "Many of our retired gridiron heroes have come forward to say they have some form of brain damage from their glory days. Joe Namath, Brett Favre, Tony Dorsett, Terry Bradshaw, Harry Carson, the list goes on and it will continue to grow. I have no pity for them." Chicago Tribune: "NFL Players, Owners, and Fans All to Blame for Concussion Danger" (opinion from columnist Jerry Davich)
    • "[CBS Philadelphia sports commentator Jeff] Roe saw the film with me and questioned why, after seeing it, I was rushing home to see the Eagles. My response was I thought the players were now informed fully of the risks and didn't feel that I was morally shaky by enjoying such a violent game." CBS Philadelphia review: "Concussion Movie Will Not Cripple the NFL"
    • "But Concussion may actually make a difference because it doesn't require government action or even civilian action. All civilians have to do to voice their opposition is to not watch football and not play football." Forbes magazine: "Why Will Smith's 'Concussion' May Actually Impact the NFL"
    • "In a film with so little interest in gray areas, the bad guy becomes everyone who isn't the good guys, which leads us to Concussion's most troubling villain: us. For a movie that's ostensibly about how awful football is, Concussion sure has a lot of nice things to say about football." Slate: "Hands to the Face: The Woeful 'Concussion' Fails to Hold the NFL—or Anyone—Accountable for the CTE Crisis"
    • "Parents and players now know the warning signs [of CTE]. It does not mean that football will ever go away. As noted in the film, the NFL owns a day of the week. And it now stretches its tentacles to Thursday nights, Monday nights, and the occasional Saturday playoff game." Orlando Sentinel: "Brain Science Slowly Beaten Into NFL Owners' Heads in 'Concussion'" (opinion from columnist George Diaz)
    • “Any activity which results in repeated blows to the head has the risk of causing brain damage. Once you know the risk involved in something, what's the first thing you do? Protect the children from it.” Quote from Bennett Omalu in the Guardian: "Doctor Who Fought NFL Says 'No Equipment Can Prevent' Such Injuries"
    • "We have a grandson who plays. He's 7. After seeing this movie, I should probably go call his parents and say he shouldn't play anymore. But I can't do that. Isn't that awful? I'd rather roll the dice.” Quote from Taz Anderson, former NFL player, in Sports Illustrated: ‘Paid to Give Concussions' (Screening of 'Concussion' with 70 former NFL players)

    Physical therapists have a critical role in concussion prevention and management. APTA offers multiple resources on concussion, which include a Traumatic Brain Injury webpage, and a clinical summary on concussion available for free to members on PTNow. The association also offers a patient-focused Physical Therapist's Guide to Concussion on APTA's MoveForwardPT.com consumer website. Continuing education offerings from APTA include the prerecorded webinar "Managing Concussions With an Interprofessional Team" and the online course "Concussion and the Postconcussive Syndrome,” both available through the APTA Learning Center.


    • If we know about CTE, then we should be questioning and scrutinizing how early we let kids play this contact sport. We should also be scrutinizing the sports doctors and the calls they make about letting someone back in the game after concussion has been identified. There are things we can do besides just throw up our hands and say well people are watching and funding the sport so "oh well". Shame on people for their lazy opinions.

      Posted by Amy Lowe on 12/30/2015 4:41 PM

    • Even with everything we now know and what the movie "concussion" has brought to light to the general public, it will not change the NFL or the sport of football. The NFL is a business and you cannot blame the team doctors, they don't work for the pkayers, they work for the team and its there job to make sure the team can field its best players for a chance to win. Right or wrong that's just the way it is and if a team doctor refused to do this the team would simply get another doctor to do so. I love football and I think it's terrible what is happening to these modern day gladiators after there glory days are behind them but I also think that if you were to ask current players who now know the risks and the statistics, there isn't one that would turn in his jersey.

      Posted by Derek Johnston on 1/4/2016 8:45 PM

    • I think it is a shame that this movie had derogatory comments towards Athletic Trainers as they are such an important part of the team that cares for athletes.

      Posted by John Heick on 1/6/2016 7:04 PM

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