Will Smith says playing 'Concussion' doctor was eye-opening

NEW YORK -- While the new Will Smith film "Concussion" may lead some to question their support of the NFL, the forensic pathologist who first drew attention to the dangers of repeated head trauma said he wanted his discoveries to "advance football.

See Full Article

"

"Concussion" tells the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu who stumbled upon an insidious brain disorder affecting football players that began with an autopsy on former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster in 2002.

"I had this hunger in me to use my knowledge to become a voice for the voiceless, to make a difference, just like Will Smith," Omalu said.

Smith said the script enlightened him about the dangerous effects of multiple concussions.

"When I met Bennet and went through the science, I was terrified as a parent," Smith said. "My son played football for four years and I had no idea this was an issue."

Omalu studied the brains of NFL players who had died under dubious circumstances, including former NFL players Justin Strzelczyk, Terry Long, and Andre Waters, who are depicted in the film. Strzelczyk was involved in a head-on collision on the wrong side of the highway evading police; Waters shot himself in the head; and Terry Long died from drinking anti-freeze.

His study, in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh's pathology department, led to the discovery that the former players were suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, an asymptomatic brain disease. The effects don't show up until later in life, and manifest as psychotic episodes, dementia, and suicide. The disease is irreversible.

CTE had been researched previously in boxers and it had been identified in soccer and rugby players, though Omalu's work first linked it to American football players and has sparked broad discussions about player safety.

After researching the role and learning more about the condition, Smith remains a football fan. Yet, he feels different about the game, and has become adamant that parents and players have a right to know about the effects of continuous head trauma.

"I wanted to be a part of it just to deliver information to parents and to players because if I didn't know, I felt a lot of other people didn't know," Smith said.

David Morse plays Webster in the film, and found it a challenge to portray a great athlete who died a broken man.

"(Mike Webster) was adored by people, the city of Pittsburgh, but what we see is a man at the end of his life with dementia," Morse said. "He's gluing his teeth in with Super Glue, tasering himself. He's just in a kind of hell at the end of his life."

Webster's problems progressed after his 1997 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He went on a downward spiral, dying in 2002 at age 50.

Morse remains a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but admits playing Webster affected him.

"I'm fascinated by the game, but I can't watch it the same way," he said. "I still watch it, but I understand way more about what's happening to these people on the field."

The NFL attacked the study, and the Nigerian-born Omalu feared deportation. But he kept his resolve.

"My faith made me not afraid," Omalu said. "Americans are perfect and seek perfection in whatever they do, so I was simply being American to contribute my part to this wonderful country, to actually advance football."

Morse sees that era as a dark period for professional football.

"The NFL at that time period should not look good, they were doing the wrong thing. they were trying to crush anybody, Dr. Omalu, who wanted to talk about it," he said. "Now, they starting to do the right thing and thank goodness they are.

"Nobody wants the game to go away, but there needs to be an awareness and an honesty with players and parents of young children playing the game," Morse said.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Ellen DeGeneres sets record after winning 3 People's Choice Awards

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - Ellen DeGeneres set a record at the People's Choice Awards , becoming the winningest entertainer in the show's history. DeGeneres picked up three trophies at Wednesday's ceremony for a career total of 20 People's Choice wins. Source
  • Default Image

    Ray Liotta finds career upswing with cop drama

    Entertainment CTV News
    PASADENA, Calif. -- Ray Liotta knows that he's firmly cemented in the public's mind as the real-life mobster he played in the 1990 movie "Goodfellas." Even if the 62-year-old actor has moved on, working steadily over the years, he found out not everyone else has done so. Source
  • Ellen Degeneres makes history at 43rd People's Choice Awards [Photos]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress and comedienne Ellen Degeneres made People’s Choice Awards history in Los Angeles on Wednesday night by becoming the most decorated celebrity in the TV ceremony’s 43 years. The Finding Dory star, who hosts her own top-rated daytime talk show in America, picked up her 20th, 21st and 22nd awards at the Microsoft Theater. Source
  • Virginia executes man who killed House of Freaks singer and his family

    Entertainment CBC News
    Virginia has executed a man convicted of killing two young girls and their parents during a New Year's Day home invasion more than 11 years ago. Authorities say 39-year-old Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Source
  • Man admits to swindling Alanis Morissette of nearly $5M US

    Entertainment CBC News
    The former business manager for Alanis Morissette admitted embezzling more than $7 million from the singer and other celebrities and agreed to plead guilty to federal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday. Jonathan Todd Schwartz, 48, of Los Angeles, was charged with wire fraud and filing a false tax return for failing to report the embezzled funds, prosecutors said. Source
  • 'A Dog’s Purpose' video triggers calls for boycott 

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    WINNIPEG — A Toronto-based animal law organization has filed animal cruelty complaints over the treatment of a German shepherd on the set of the film “A Dog’s Purpose.” Animal Justice says footage apparently shot near Winnipeg in November 2015 shows the filmmakers forcing the dog into turbulent water. Source
  • Trump escalates Tom Ford fashion feud

    Entertainment CTV News
    The Wynn Las Vegas hotel has stopped selling Tom Ford cosmetics and sunglasses and President-elect Donald Trump declared on television it is because of the designer's dis over dressing his wife, Melania. Michael Weaver, spokesman for the hotel, confirmed it removed Ford's lines of those items from its stores over the weekend, but declined to say why. Source
  • Complaint filed over treatment of dog on Winnipeg-area film set

    Entertainment CTV News
    WINNIPEG -- A Toronto-based animal law organization has filed animal cruelty complaints over the treatment of a German shepherd on the set of the film "A Dog's Purpose." Animal Justice says footage apparently shot near Winnipeg in November 2015 shows the filmmakers forcing the dog into turbulent water. Source
  • Alanis Morissette's ex-manager admits to $4.8M theft from singer

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — The former business manager for Alanis Morissette admitted embezzling more than $6.5 million from the singer and other celebrities and agreed to plead guilty to federal charges, prosecutors said Wednesday. Jonathan Todd Schwartz, 48, of Los Angeles, was charged with wire fraud and filing a false tax return for failing to report the embezzled funds, prosecutors said. Source
  • Animal rights group files complaint to province over 'blatant animal cruelty' on A Dog's Purpose film set

    Entertainment CBC News
    A national animal welfare group has filed a complaint with Manitoba authorities after a video surfaced online which appears to show a dog being forced into churning water during the production of soon-to-be released film A Dog's Purpose. Source