What Does Will Smith’s “Concussion” Really Mean for the NFL?

We check in with former NFL player Ray Lucas and director of P.A.S.T. player services Jennifer Smith to find out what's changed since season one of "Casualties of the Gridiron"—and how Will Smith's new film, "Concussion," can help bring awareness to football players suffering from devastating brain injuries.

Released on 12/23/2015

Credits

Starring: Ray Lucas

Transcript

00:01
Well, since the last time you saw me on Gridiron Greats,
00:03
I'm feeling kinda good.
00:05
I'm in pain, you know.
00:06
I'll be in pain for the rest of my life,
00:07
but I know how to cope with it.
00:10
I've been doing a lot of therapy
00:12
and all that stuff to stay with it.
00:13
You know, losing the weight,
00:14
trying not to be heavyweight champion of the world
00:17
helps out a lot on the joints.
00:19
So I'm doing pretty well.
00:22
Since the last episode of Casualties of the Gridiron,
00:25
I would like to say that I've seen a lot of changes,
00:28
but I really can't.
00:29
For me, and what we see every day,
00:31
it's pretty much status quo.
00:33
We're still seeing a lot of players
00:35
who are suffering from a multitude of issues
00:38
that we are now relating to CTE.
00:41
So from our perspective,
00:42
since we wrapped Casualties of the Gridiron,
00:44
I wouldn't say that too much has changed.
00:47
The biggest challenge in dealing with players
00:48
who are thought to have CTE
00:50
is really dealing with their behavioral health,
00:52
their mood swings, their depression,
00:53
their anxiety, and the impact
00:55
that all has on their family,
00:57
and having to help educate their family
00:59
on why their loved one is going through this.
01:02
I think it's phenomenal that Hollywood
01:05
made a movie called Concussion
01:08
about a story that is really important.
01:11
And I think that Hollywood and the media
01:13
can play a huge role
01:15
in creating an awareness
01:17
around something that is very real
01:18
and very important that effects not just
01:21
professional athletes, but collegiate athletes,
01:23
young athletes.
01:25
I think they can play a huge role
01:27
in how this all plays out.
01:29
My reaction to the movie is that
01:31
it was very informative.
01:33
I thought that the way they portrayed the guys
01:37
that were really sick was eye-opening.
01:40
I thought that the movie covered a lot of bases.
01:42
My vision for the future is knowledge.
01:46
Knowledge is power.
01:47
And I think that a lot of the players
01:50
used to not even give a second thought
01:51
to their brain or their brain health.
01:53
So my vision for the future is current players, kids,
01:57
and retired players, focus
01:59
on what they can do to improve their brain health
02:02
so they're prepared for sustaining
02:04
these types of issues.
02:06
My advice to myself would be to
02:10
not let your pride
02:11
get in the way of smarts
02:13
as far as if you're hurt, don't play hurt.
02:17
The mentality was, when I played,
02:19
that if you don't play hurt, you're not tough.
02:21
That would probably be the one thing that
02:23
I would go back and say,
02:23
Hey, listen. If you don't hurt the team,
02:26
you know, stay out until you get healthy.
02:28
You know, I still, I talk to a lot of players
02:30
on a day-to-day basis,
02:31
some who are afflicted with issues
02:33
related to concussions, some who are afraid
02:35
that they may go the way of Dave Duerson
02:38
and Andre Waters and Junior Seau.
02:41
The general consensus among players right now,
02:44
I would say that I talk to,
02:46
is a certain level of fear,
02:48
fear that that is going to become them.
02:51
But the good news is,
02:52
especially through the kinds of work that we do,
02:55
is there are things that can be done
02:57
to improve the quality of life
02:58
as long as you have the knowledge to deal with it.
03:01
I think over the last several years, the stigma
03:04
that's associated with concussion-related issues
03:07
is starting to diminish,
03:08
and I think that that's resulted in seeing
03:10
a lot of player--guys like Tony Dorsett, Terry Bradshaw--
03:14
people with high profiles coming out to create
03:16
an awareness about what is going on
03:19
and what can be done to combat it.
03:23
The fact that we've just learned
03:25
that Frank Gifford suffered from CTE
03:27
isn't really that surprising.
03:30
But the impact of this information
03:32
being released publicly has been
03:34
phenomenal and extremely positive
03:37
in the sense that it's really created
03:39
a lot more awareness,
03:41
and it really just goes to show
03:43
that anybody who played the game
03:44
at any point in time--rich, poor, famous, not famous--
03:48
can be afflicted with the issues
03:51
that are related to CTE.
03:53
I'm not really sure what the NFL's
03:54
going to look like in 50 years.
03:56
I think that you're going to see more rules changes.
03:58
I think the game, itself, will begin to evolve
04:01
and to change, but the NFL's not going anywhere.
04:04
There is way too much money on the line.