Z Files: Another headache for the NFL

Z Files: Another headache for the NFL

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't getting coal for Christmas, it only feels that way. Because coming to a theater near you on December 25th: "Concussion", the movie the National Football League doesn't want you to see.

Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the former Allegheny County Coroner's Office neuropathologist who discovered the link between American football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NFL wasn't happy about those findings 13 years ago, and the movie will only kick off another round of legitimate questions about the safety and future of football.

Even Smith, the father of a former high school football star, wrestles with that question.

"It's not black and white.  It's not ... there's not easy answers", Smith said during his promotional tour.  "It's both things at the same time.  It absolutely is one of the most beautiful, poetic and powerful sports you'll ever see.  It's the strongest and most powerful human beings on Earth.  But at the same time there is a hidden potential, long-term brain issue with the game that is hidden in plain sight."

The league itself can boast of dozens of rule changes in the last decade, and a strict concussion protocol. Ask Joe Haden, the Browns Pro Bowl cornerback who missed seven of the past eight games before finally shutting it down for the season. Better yet, ask Colt McCoy, the former Browns quarterback whose concussion in Pittsburgh in 2011, courtesy of a helmet-to-helmet hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison, led to the present protocol.

But as the old saying goes, it's a violent game played by violent men, who are only getting bigger, stronger and faster as the generations roll on. Will there be a day when football as we know it is gone?  Possibly. In the meantime, the popularity of the sport continues to soar, the NFL continues to print money, and the big screen is about to reignite a very controversial debate.

Merry Christmas, Commish.

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