'Concussion' director says changes on horizon for NFL

Thu Dec 24, 2015 8:25am EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The director of football head trauma film "Concussion" says the beloved American sport may already be in the early stages of "a seismic shift" as parents are dissuaded from letting their children play football amid safety concerns.

"Concussion," out in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, stars Will Smith as Nigerian forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovered the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former Pittsburgh football players that died sudden and tragic deaths.

The Sony Pictures film, garnering awards buzz especially for Smith's performance, comes at a time where head trauma is a hot button topic in the multi-million dollar NFL industry.

A change could be taking place at a grassroots level, however, as writer-director Peter Landesman said the numbers for Pop Warner football, a children's football league, are "down as much as 35 percent."

"Those elite athletes at six, seven years old are not playing football; they're wrestling, they're running, they're playing lacrosse," he said.

"Those kids will not show up in the NFL, that number is only going to get bigger. (There's a) seismic change coming for the sport," he added.

The director said the film is meant to give audiences information so that they can make up their own minds about the safety of the sport.

"I would never tell another parent or another teenager or adult what to do," he said. "The film embraces what a conflicting problem this is."   Continued...

Director of the movie "Concussion" Peter Landesman poses for Reuters in Los Angeles, California December 21, 2015. Picture taken December 21. REUTERS/Jason Redmond