Will Smith is returning to form. Let’s all pretend After Earth never happened, and focus on the quality movies he has heaped on us at theaters. This Christmas, he is taking on the NFL with Concussion just in time for the playoffs.

I think the NFL front office would rather debate Deflategate for another year than have people turn out in droves for this film.

Oh, and get ready for Oscar buzz if the trailer is any indication of quality. While I love the summer blockbusters Will Smith has offered, when you toss him into these dramatic roles; the man shines.

4 Things to Know About Concussion

It’s based on a true story. Smith portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, and conducted the autopsy on of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster.

Truth shines through. The story is an uphill battle. The focus by the NFL, today on head trauma and repeated concussions, was not the NFL a decade ago. It was the dirty secret no one wanted to discuss. Lives lost and plenty of lawsuits are changing the way NFL does business.

Nowhere is the power of the NFL more evident than in the trailer when Smith’s Dr. Omalu is told he’s going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week. The NFL season kicks off next week. For fall and most of winter, they own Sunday in America.

Will Smith goes all in. Notice the accent? Dr. Omalu is from Nigeria, and Will Smith does the doctor’s accent spot on. Even his mannerisms. Take a look at this PBS interview from 2013. Now watch the trailer again.

It will remind you of Smith’s turn as Muhammad Ali in 2011. He was nominated for an Oscar then, and there’s no reason the award nominations won’t start piling up early next year.

Stellar casting. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Pema Mutiso. Luke Wilson reportedly as Roger Goodell and Alec Baldwin as Dr. Julian Bailes.

Will Smith back as a dramatic actor? Sign me up. It gives theatergoers a serious pairing to go with what will be the cultural event of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Instead of costumes and fandom, hopefully, we will all learn something about concussions and the risks posed to athletes and the majority of us not suiting up on Sundays.

Visit the Brain Research Institute to learn more about CTE and concussions.


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