Is Dorsey Levens’ ‘Bell-Rung’ Documentary Worthy of Our Support?


Former Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens as he asks on a video for support of his documentary, “Bell Rung.”

Former Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens is making the rounds this week on radio talk shows asking fans to provide financial support for the expansion of his documentary “Bell-Rung” from its current length of 48 minutes to a 90-minute feature length film.

Levens announced he is using to collect money from people like you and me to add new content to his film. With a feature length film, Levens hopes to increase concussion awareness among players, fans and little leaguers, resulting in more support for additional research and better health plans for retired NFL players.

Levens, by the way, is also one of the former players involved in an ongoing lawsuit against the league related to concussions.

“There is no quick fix for this,” Levens said in a news release Wednesday. “It’s going to take time to get the technology right, get the proper doctors educated, get the information out there to the players. But it’s all a step in the right direction.”

On Fox Sports radio Wednesday, Levens was asked how many concussions he had in his career. He said none that were ever documented. He was then asked did he ever falsify or lie about having symptoms. Levens danced around that question to get back on point.

“Here is the alarming thing to me. I was interviewing Dr. Guskiewicz, who is the head trainer at the University of North Carolina, one of the leading doctors in traumatic brain injury. I’m doing this interview for Bell-Rung and he said ‘every time you get your bell rung, that’s a concussion.’”

Based on that revelation, Levens said he had hundreds of concussions in his career.

In my review of a trailer for the documentary, Guskiewicz didn’t exactly say that. But his major contention was still important and somewhat shocking: many concussions at all levels of football likely went undiagnosed in the past because officials focused on whether a player lost consciousness. Guskiewicz said less than 10 percent of all concussions result in loss of consciousness.

“My first couple of years in the league I played fullback,” Levens said. “And I hated it. Because it was a headache waiting to happen. Especially during training camp. You get your bell rung seven or eight times a practice.”

Levens said he wished people would stop minimizing the impact. “It’s more than getting your bell rung. Any time your brain moves, or is banged up against your skull cavity, that is a concussion.”

Why do we like the NFL so much? I for one, must admit I enjoy watching a fullback or pulling lineman make a pancake block on a linebacker, a running back deliver a shivering stiff-arm to a cornerback, a defensive tackle beat his blocker and stuff a running back for a loss, or a blitzing linebacker nail a quarterback for a big sack. The game we love and support requires very physical, sometimes brutal contact. Now we hear there are former players in their early 30s and 40s who have early signs of dementia.

There is a great case for additional funding for concussion research. Some players absorb hundreds of “bell-ringing” hits and have no debilitating effects after their professional careers, while others suffer unbearable pain and even consider suicide.

But should the money come from fans? Didn’t our support for the Packers just lead to record-breaking profits?  If this is at all a reflection of how well the league did in 2012, then I think Levens is barking up the wrong money tree. And what about his lawsuit? Doesn’t that damage the credibility of the documentary?

I want to see more concussion-related research, but I will take a pass on providing financial support for Dorsey’s documentary.  I commend him for raising awareness and I think he has already accomplished quite a bit. However, it may be better for someone else to carry the torch on this project.

What are your thoughts? Would you donate money to help finance Dorsey’s documentary?

Here is Levens’ message: