The first trailer for Will Smith’s NFL concussion cover-up film was released online this week.
In Concussion, Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born neuropathologist who first discovered the link between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head.
In the trailer, Smith demands the NFL “tell the truth” while the league understandably attempts to protect its brand and its game.
Concussion is based on the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain,” which detailed Omalu’s discovery of CTE after he performed an autopsy on the late Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster in 2002.
“When I heard about Bennet Omalu, I recognized that the story operated on a number of levels that made it completely unique,” writer/director Peter Landesman (Kill the Messenger, Parkland) told Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King on Monday.
“As an immigrant coming to America, who discovers a dangerous detail about the most American of things, America’s sacred cow, who then is forced to tell America about itself as a disaffected Nigerian, it was an extraordinary opportunity to explore what it is to be an American. And it was a gorgeous way to understand what it is to be a citizen of this nation. And then there was the sports element. I played football for two years in college, I love the game, I am an athlete, I love sports and I watch football. I went to Brown, the powerhouse. I thought this was another way to un-peel the layers away from the theater of it and the pageantry of it to get to the humanity of it.”
Landesman also told SI that he screened a copy of Concussion for former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, who retired from the NFL at age 24 over health concerns.
The director said that “at the end of it, [Borland] was literally, physically shaking. Shaken and shaking. I think that he wasn’t able to really understand the physical consequences of his own decision yet.”
The trailer’s release on Monday was, depending on who you ask, perfectly timed; the same day, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady both appeared in Manhattan Federal Court, where the two sides failed to reach a settlement in the now-infamous “Deflate-gate” case. The NFL season kicks off in nine days.
In addition to Smith, Concussion stars Alec Baldwin, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Albert Brooks and Stephen Moyer. Luke Wilson plays NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The film hits theaters December 25. Check out the trailer above.