The trailer shows Dr. Omalu (played by Smith), a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, as he discovers damage (now known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in the brains of football players and determines that it is caused by the hits they routinely take during games. It quickly becomes clear that the NFL is not interested in this information, though. “You’ve turned on the lights and gave their biggest bogeyman a name,” Alex Baldwin’s character tells him.
Although the NFL has since changed its approach to concussions and now makes substantial investments in preventing brain injury, the movie shows that the league’s resistance was extreme. The preview shows their opposition escalating to the point that Dr. Omalu appears to potentially be in danger. Understandably, he’s unsure of whether or not to keep fighting. “I am the wrong person to have discovered this,” he says at one point.
Dr. Omalu’s real-life discovery came after an autopsy on Mike Webster, a former center who had played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs. By examining Webster and later other players as well, he noticed a pattern. Multiple players showed signs of degenerative brain disease, alerting him to the danger of the game.
“He was completely focused on the science,” explained director Peter Landesman in the interview with King. “He didn’t know football, he didn’t know who Mike Webster was; to him, Webster was just another body on a slab.”
King shared both the interview and trailer on Twitter Monday.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 31, 2015
In addition to Smith and Baldwin, the film also stars Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Paul Reiser, and Luke Wilson.
Concussion hits theaters on Christmas Day.