Will Smith’s ‘Concussion’ Inspired Teen to Decline Football Scholarships

Will Smith’s latest movie, Concussion, may not have hit the box office as hard as expected, but it left a lasting impression on one high school senior.

John Castello, a student from Pennsylvania, said that the film, which showcased the traumatic brain injuries that some NFL players experience, prompted him to decline 12 football scholarships at a dozen universities.

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“The head injuries were a huge reason for my decision,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve liked both football and basketball for some time. I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do. Then, that movie Concussion came out and some interviews came out. I watched one interview with Dr. Omalu where he was talking about [former Steelers center] Mike Webster. After watching that, I said it’s not worth it.”

The movie, which was released this past Christmas, saw Smith star as Bennett Omalu, a Nigerian doctor who approached the NFL with information about the damaging effects of football. Castello said the possibility of dementia, confusion, memory loss, and aggression as a result of the rigorous field activity in exchange for a full-ride through school just wasn’t worth it.

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“Yeah, it would be free college. But your whole life is in jeopardy. You’re putting your body in harm’s way every single week,” he said. “It was definitely a tough choice, but I think I made the right choice.”

Instead, the teen whose three siblings are currently in college, will play basketball, a decision he hopes will inspire others down the line.

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“I know it’s unusual and strange, and some people might look at me and say some things, but maybe I can influence some other kids to pick basketball over football, just because of the injuries.”

Tags: Will Smith