I went to watch Concussion with high expectations as I was told by friends it was a must see. It did not disappoint and left me with a lot of mixed feelings about the game.
This movie was very emotional to me and I was instantly connected since I am a mother of three boys who love to play football, divorced from a retired NFL player and a friend to many current and retired players. Growing up in a small town outside of Houston where football starts at the age of 5, football is what everyone looks forward to on Friday and Saturdays. It really is like Friday Night Lights! Football has also been a part my kids’ lives and in their surroundings since they were born. Their dad played in the NFL for 12 years and now they get to watch their Uncle Quandre play and live out his dream. It is a family legacy and has quickly become their passion. I remember when their Uncle Quandre was drafted, Kaden approached me and said, “Mom, I’m next” I asked him what he was next for. He said, “Next to go pro in our family.” At the age of nine, this is his dream and he wants to follow in the steps that have come before him.
This was our fifth season and next year all the boys will be playing tackle. When I asked the boys what they liked more scoring touchdowns or hitting, Kaden and Kasen both said, “hitting.” That didn’t come as a surprise to me and Kaleb of course said, “scoring.” I mean Kasen had me purchase pads so he could run around the house tackling his brothers, I guess you could say he is ready for the upcoming season. I have watched Kaden play 3 years of tackle and I do find myself feeling lighter than air when I see Kaden tackle someone hard, I don’t know if it’s because I watched their dad tackle people for 17 years; however, I get nervous when he is on offense. I fear the hit that every mom doesn’t want to happen but I remember a particular play….Kaden was on kickoff return at the all-star tournament in Katy. He was running fast, making cuts and I just knew he was going to score when out of nowhere he got hit so hard he flew into the air. I just sat there with my hands over my mouth speechless.
In that moment I was left shocked and prayed that he would get up. He stood up and had tears in his eyes as he made his way to the sidelines. I could hear his teammates asking if he was ok. I went over to check on him as I wanted to take all his pain away in that moment. He was trying hard to be brave and not let a single tear stream down his face. I wanted to embrace him and tell him everything would be alright. I listened to the coaches and even at this young age these kids are taught to endure a high tolerance to pain. They are taught to do whatever it takes to get the WIN and I am guilty of sitting on the sidelines or in the stands week after week cheering him on. A few years ago, one of his coaches asked him if he was hurt or injured. If he was injured, he would be allowed to sit out. If he was hurt, he better get back in the game. How could a child from the age of 6,7,8 or 9 tell the difference? Isn’t pain, pain? I don’t want my boys to think that they have to lie about what they are feeling because that will translate as they move up if this is the sport they decide to continue to play.
Kaden has been injured before and most of the time I have gotten out of my seat to check on him. At his young age, it’s hard to tell if he is really hurt or is it his pride? This year, he got injured and was checked for a concussion and he passed all the test but he also said he had a headache and I learned that day that if you have a headache, you are not allowed to go back in the game under any circumstances. I’m extremely thankful that policy has been implemented after watching this movie. Every precaution should be taken starting at the little league level to ensure the safety of the players.
People would always ask me if I was scared watching my husband at the time play, and my response was always, NO. He did the hitting and it never occurred to me the long term effects this game we all watch starting at the little league level had on the players. I’ve heard players talk about it but the movie brings it to light. I now have a different perspective since being out of the football world and seeing this movie. These guys go out there week after week and are expected to perform at any and all costs. If you’re sick, you play. I watched a game a few weeks ago and Matt Hasselback had just been released from the hospital days before he took the field. He had no business playing football. When you see players going into the locker room after they have been hurt, they are getting something to numb the pain and are expected to be back on the field unless a serious injury has occurred.
I have been around athletes for many years and sat around these discussions. These men can’t afford to be out a play or game because it is known that you are replaceable, someone is sitting on the sidelines waiting to take your spot. When you get shot up with medication during a game to numb the pain, it may take the pain away for that moment, but think what happens after that game when the drugs wear off? These players go home and that’s when the real pain sets in or years later. What they go through to be on the field on Sunday isn’t easy and should be respected and valued more.
I have a friend whose medical file for injuries is about 500 pages long. Can’t straighten his arm, fingers are messed up the list goes on. One of my friend’s ex-husband is 33 and was told he had a body of a 65 year old. These men literally put their lives and health in jeopardy for this game. I think more information of the long term effects needs to be available for the players. My ex-husband played with the late great Junior Seau and to have a healthy man with no known illnesses, makes you wonder what his state of mind was. What was going on within his brain?
The end of the movie shared some valuable information. The information that caught my eye was the settlement the NFL reached with some of the retired players. It stated that the NFL finally reached a settlement with the condition they did not have to disclose the findings on concussions. That tells me there is a lot they knew/know but aren’t saying anything to protect this billion dollar organization. There is no amount of money in any settlement that can bring these players back; I hope the NFL continues to shed light on this issue for the sake of the players that are playing today and in the future.
I have a lot to think about as a parent because as their mom, it is my job to protect them and make the best possible decisions for them until they are of the age where they can make their own decisions. I have asked Kaden, “how would he feel if I told him he couldn’t play football anymore?” his response was, “I would be super mad. You know I love football!” With that response I need to continue to educate my boys and make them more aware of the sport and the potential outcome in playing such a contact sport. They are ready for next season to start and we are…..7 months away!
Have you seen the movie? If so, what are your thoughts?