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08/26/2013

Big Mac movie review: The United States of Football feels like "Roger and Me"

La-et-ct-cineplex-20130823-001Director Sean Pamphilon made his name go big when he released the video of then New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams damming footage to his players to basically beat the brains of the opposing players.

The full movie is now out, and it's equally as scary as the footage that was the center of "Bounty Gate."

"The United States of Football" is Pamphilon's documentary that examines the culture of football, and the long suffering effects of those who play it. It has just a bit of a "Roger and Me", Michael Moore's hellbent rant against GM and its cut throat, bottom-line approach that affected so many in the auto industry.

"The United States of Football"  has just been released, timed perfectly for the start of football season.

Pamphilon spent years compiling footage and conducting interview from the low level of young kids to high school to college to the pros. The message is simple - football is a giant business where the players are doing more damage to themselves than they are aware because the medical studies say so.

The movie makes football sound like a concussions routinely happen, and the players are denying their existence because they don't want to lose their spot. The repeated pounding of the head is leading to an inevitable breakdown of the brain, changing lives and families.

Pamphilon focuses much of this film on former New Orleans Saints tackle Kyle Turley, who has been an activist against the NFL to educate people about the dangers of the game he loved.

The saddest footage involved the wife of the late John Mackey, who suffered dimentia near the end of his life. In the movie, Mackey was slumped over in a chair, unable to speak, as his wife described a condition that she believed was all related to the beating he took as a player. Ain't none of it good.

Pamphilon also speaks the widow and family of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, Justin Strzelcyk, who after his death an autopsy revealed brain damage.

The current active player Pamphilon interviews extensively is Bengals LB James Harrison.

Sean-pamphilonNaturally, the only interview Pamphilon was unable to land was NFL boss Roger Goodell. It wasn't for a lack of effort; there is one very Michael Moore scene where Pamphilon tries to corner Goodell after a Super Bowl press conference to no avail.

The film is pretty good in that Pamphilon, who is a football fan, makes his point - football is a big-business, and it's a game that the spectators have no incentive to quit while the participants now willingly risk suffering life-altering consequences to play.

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