Will Smith plays a real-life doctor researching football-related brain injuries


The NFL says it is working to keep its players safe, in response to Will Smith‘s new movie Concussion, which focuses on the dangers of repeated head trauma on the football field.

Smith, 46, plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster as well as other football players. Omalu went on to claim that professional football could pose a threat to the brains of players who repeatedly suffered head injury.

The NFL responded to the new trailer with a statement:

“We are encouraged by the ongoing focus on the critical issue of player health and safety. We have no higher priority. We all know more about this issue than we did 10 or 20 years ago. As we continue to learn more, we apply those learnings to make our game and players safer,” the organization told Fox News.

Speaking to football website MMQB, writer-director Peter Landesman said Smith’s role allows him to explore what it means to be an American.

“When I heard about Bennet Omalu, I recognized that the story operated on a number of levels that made it completely unique,” Landesman said. “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.”

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The trailer for the film debuted on Monday. Concussion also stars Luke Wilson, Alec Baldwin and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. It is set for release on Christmas Day.