Tag Archives: Concussion

Concussion

4 Jan
By Tom Meek  |  December 23, 2015  |  12:11pm
<i>Concussion</i>

I’ll grant this about Concussion, the docudrama exposing the deadly ills of repetitive blows to the head in the NFL—it’s not didactic or even self righteous, as one might suspect and be put off by. Instead, it’s reasonably smart, balanced and, despite a matter-of-fact approach, deeply human. It also brings a fresh and informative perspective to the medical issue, describing how the deteriorating downstream physiological effects of head banging were discovered and the NFL’s efforts to suppress those findings. And nestled deep inside all the corporate wrangling lies a compelling immigrant success story to boot.

We begin shortly after the new millennium with “Iron” Mike Webster (David Morse, excellent as the tortured lineman), a four-time Super Bowl Champion now disfigured, hearing voices and practically homeless living in his pickup truck. Even though he’s an adored legend of the city of Pittsburgh, no one seems to notice or care until he commits suicide and is rolled in on a gurney for an autopsy. The pathologist on duty, Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), happens to be from Nigeria, doesn’t have U.S. citizenship and by default is immune to the commercially spoon-fed love of America’s most watched sport and the machinery surrounding it. Against minor protests around the morgue (don’t defile our hero), Omalu gets down to his clinical task and initially finds Webster’s brain normal but his curiosity piqued by evidence of Webster’s deranged habits (pulling out his teeth and glueing them back in), he keeps digging, spending several thousands of of his own dollars for outside tests to arrive at the CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) diagnosis we’re all now too acutely aware of.

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