I saw the trailer of the movie Concussion starring Will Smith that is expected to be released in December. The movie details the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who first diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalitis who he did the autopsy of Mike Webster.Webster was a former star center with the Pittsburgh Steelers nicknamed “Iron Mike” for his endurance. After his playing career ended, however, Mike fell apart, becoming homeless and died at the ago of 50 with the body of a much older man.
The National Football League has much at stake as a multi billion dollar industry that reaches tens of millions of people each week. Fans enjoy games in stadiums paid for most often by taxpayers under threat that the team would leave town. HIgh schools and colleges are part of the neighborhood to pro player pipeline. Football coaches earn far more than the presidents at the universities and colleges where they work, when subsidies from alumni associations are taken into consideration.
Players have known for some time that they were paying a price in terms of mental and physical injuries. But is it this man, Tony Dorsett, become became a very different man after retirement?
The movie asks and answers that question. A few players fearing for their safety have retired early. Parents are asking whether they want their sons to play this violent sport. As consumers we can exercise our votes by changing our behavior and our viewing habits. It’s worth taking the first step in listening to the stories of injured players and watching this movie. It’s going to be tough but I am willing to try.