The first trailer for "Concussion," a football drama starring Will Smith, promises more negative publicity for the NFL.

Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, a neuropathologist who finds himself at odds with the NFL after he links potentially fatal dementia in professional players to the head traumas sustained during their careers. "Concussion" stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Richard T. Jones as real-life players Dave Duerson and Andre Waters. Luke Wilson plays NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, seen in the trailer only briefly as a stone-faced figure at a press conference. The cast also includes Albert Brooks and Alec Baldwin.

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"Concussion" is based on "Game Brain," a 2009 article by Jeanne Marie Laskas that appeared in GQ magazine.

The film's trailer, which debuted online Monday, outlines a familiar narrative in which a lone figure tries to speak the truth about a large and powerful institution. It's a story that's been told before in many different movies, notably "Silkwood," starring Meryl Streep as a whistle-blower at a nuclear plant, "The Insider," starring Russell Crowe as a former tobacco industry executive, and "A Civil Action," starring John Travolta as a small-time lawyer who takes on a massive chemical corporation.

The big industries in those movies were already widely viewed with distrust when they were cast as villains. "Concussion," however, appears to be putting one of America's favorite pastimes on trial. Though professional football has taken its own beating in the press over the issue of head injuries, it remains a hugely popular sport. Its annual Super Bowl is frequently the most-watched television event of the year, with well over 100 million viewers. Yet the trailer for "Concussion" ends with an image of Smith walking up the stairs of a foootball stadium as if to his doom.

Written and directed by Peter Landesman (whose script for "Kill the Messenger," about the controversial journalist Gary Webb, followed a similar arc), "Concussion" arrives in theaters this Christmas.