Kimberly Archie’s 24 year old son died from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy from playing football. Here is her poignant review of the movie Concussion, in theaters tomorrow.
Concussion is everything that screams a blockbuster award-winning movie. Americans will flock to see this well package David and Goliath story. Ironically in the end Goliath wins and football remains relatively unchanged.
I cried throughout the entire movie. My 24-year-old son Paul Bright died September 1, 2014. He had the brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) from all the hits he took playing eleven years of youth and high school football. I never went and saw his dead body. Those graphic images were much too much for this mom’s soul to bear. My last memory of my son was of him hugging me and saying I love you. I had refused to change that image.
Fast forward to the movie’s Hollywood premiere from the second row with a larger than life view I watched not one, but a series of graphic, seemingly real life autopsies of dead football players who had CTE. Visions of my own son lying there dead going through the same process flooded every cell of my being.
Sitting right behind me was Sydney and Gina Seau, daughter and ex-wife of NFL Hall of Fame player Junior Seau who in 2012 committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest to leave his brain for research and also had CTE.
My tears flowed.
Will Smith was absolutely incredible as Dr. Bennett Omalu. Riveting. So real and authentic we haven’t seen a take on the establishment character this believable since Julia Roberts was Erin Brockovich.
The movie plays to our patriotism, our love for America. I couldn’t help but revel in that. When Will as Omalu describes America as being just right below heaven, I smiled from ear to ear and felt grateful I was born here.
David Morse, the actor who played Mike Webster took a minor role and made it so vivid and memorable leaving a piece of him with us as if he were in every scene of the movie. It was just powerful.
For some of the families who lost love ones to CTE we feel our grief is being used to sell a story that doesn’t quite, “tell the truth” after all. Although Omalu does proclaim, “God didn’t mean for us to play football”, along with the movie depicting his struggle to bring the brain disease to light against the NFL and his science based recent Op-Ed piece warning of CTE risks. Sony’s partnership with organizations that have long denied CTE’s link to football and suicide, as well as movie promoting quotes from co-character Dr. Julian Bailes claiming there’s no significant risk to non-pro players, is backtracking on the very real issue of children being exposed to CTE in tackle football leaving a sour taste in our mouths.
Realistically it’s just a far stretch to think that a movie will create the social good many advocates and CTE families had hoped for leaving Concussion to have one more thing in common with the Erin Brockovich movie. While the acting is Oscar deserving, changing companies like the NFL and PG&E (the company depicted in Erin Brockovich) rarely come on the heels of blockbuster movies. If it did, PG&E’s natural gas pipeline would not have blown up my best friend Kathy Ruigomez’ home in San Bruno, California ten years after the movie came out—killing eight people and leaving the San Francisco bedroom community devastated.
On the bright side, moms of CTE victims like myself have met with lawmakers to introduce federal legislation to regulate sports equipment and risk management by creating the Sport Health and Safety Administration under the Consumer Product Safety Commission so that our children’s lives are not in vain. Where Sony falls short, us moms will take the hits and cover the gap for youth players once and for all. Who better to protect kids than moms?
America loves sports, we need to love kids just as much. They are our future.
Watch the trailer here: