The historic Plaza Theatre in Atlanta which opened in 1939, the year Gone with the Wind premiered, was the perfect venue for Dorsey Levens’ epic film Bell Rung. Levens played his college ball at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech and spent 10 Seasons in the NFL (named All-Pro in ’97). The title Bell Rung comes from a term used in football circles to describe the violent, jarring of the brain.
Dorsey and I had the chance to chat prior to the screening, I told him how I’d been traveling the country over the past several months and talking about kids playing football, safety concerns of parents, concussions and the Former NFL Players Brain Injury Lawsuit. Over 50% didn’t know that much about the case; 90% of the people I spoke with (men and women) felt the legal action was more about the MONEY rather than player safety (more on that later).
I felt the film was honest, the way it was shot…the feel of it…the tone: all true. The former NFL players that appeared in the film, simply related what happened to them, how they were treated and what they are living with now.
I reached out to former Ravens All-Pro Running Back, Jamal Lewis who was in the Documentary. I received this tweet on August 14
“@Jamal31Lewis It was a pleasure doing this interview because I felt that it would reach our youth, and make them aware of concussions and it’s symptoms”.
When I think of all of the years I’ve watched my Steelers, how many hours of joy and excitement that these guys have brought me…what is that WORTH? Every week we watch our teams on the field, witness the explosive and destructive hits that they endure. Now with this film, we are getting a glimpse of what it’s really like after the applause stops and all that’s left is pain. As a young girl I recall seeing my Dad knocked down, wondering if he would get up…he played QB for the U.S. Marines (back in the day) and Marines don’t just go on the field to play football; they want to knock the hell out of each other.
Bell Rung also gave us another point of view—the female side. Monique Hobbs described in detail how she felt when her husband (former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback, Ellis Hobbs) had to be carried off the field with a career ending, partially paralyzing neck injury. You could see the hurt in her eyes. As a woman, I could sense that she felt helpless to change what had been put in front of her.
After the film ended, there was an Open Panel discussion. On the Panel:
Mike Cheever ~ Jacksonville Jaguars
Wayne Gandy ~ Rams, Steelers, Saints & Falcons
Ryan Stewart ~ Detroit Lions
LaMar Campbell ~ Detroit Lions
The Panel took random questions from the audience (of over 200 people). One of the first:
Q. Why can’t they make helmets safer?
LaMar Campbell’s answer: “….they have agreements and contracts with certain companies, so while all of these new companies may come up with great ideas to help prevent concussions, there’s a lot of red tape they have to go through to get those implemented. Even in High School they’re having problems implementing them in certain counties for kids as well…hopefully the light will come on, we’re looking at a lot of lawsuits now with high school players….so I guess we all hope that it will filter from the NFL (a billion dollar business) down to the younger level. I just think most of those Companies now are just trying to break in and help prevent concussions any way they can.”
I had the opportunity to ask the same question to Dr. Steven D. Novicky: “We believe we have at Shockstrip. Our external helmet device has been both independently lab and field tested and shown to reduce the probability of a concussion up to 34%, amongst other positive results. Our State of the Art material and design was the key to our success.”
About the MONEY—in the film Moneyball, a 2011 movie about the Oakland A’s baseball team, Peter Brand and Billy Beane are discussing why he (Billy) is making a certain decision—Peter says: “You’re not doing it for the money.” Billy: “I’m not?” Peter: “No, you’re doing it for what the money says. And it says what it says to any player that makes big money, that they’re worth it.”
I’m asking you, dear reader: These men, the subject of this heroic film—they are brothers, sons, fathers, husbands and our friends. Are THEY WORTH being evaluated and taken care of, being monitored, receiving support and having a secure future for themselves and their families? Are they?
Dorsey is heading to NYC in September to screen this extraordinary documentary in the Big Apple. I’m certain we’ll be hearing more about this, as I’m “on the case.”
Block for somebody today. If you can make someone else’s life a little easier…do it!