All NFL players are human beings. That means they enjoy things outside of their profession. They have hobbies and tastes and interests just like you and me.
For Redskins tight end Niles Paul, it's going to the movies.
As he enjoys the offseason and rehabs and recovers from the ankle injury he sustained at the beginning of last preseason, he always makes some free time to head to the local theater and catch up on the latest flicks, his favorite pastime.
Every week or so I'll sit down with Paul and we'll converse about the most recent movies he's seen, debate about their strengths and weaknesses, needlessly scrutinize or praise actors and directors, analyze his Netflix queue, and, hopefully, find another window into Paul's personality.
In our latest conversation, we discuss the latest, and biggest, superhero movie "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and Paul discusses his emotions after having watched "Concussion."
It's been a pretty big week surrounding "Batman v Superman." It won the box office but critics panned it. Would you define this movie as a success?
I don't think a movie's success is determined by how many people go see it. Any "Superman" movie, any "Batman" movie you throw out, people are going to see it, regardless of what they think about it, what they hear about it. I think people are so enamored by superheroes that they miss the whole plot and story. After you get past the façade of the movie, you've got to look down deep. I liked Batman. I wanted Wonder Woman to be a little more a part of it. I feel like she was the best character out of them all. I don't know what they have against Superman but they're making him out to be the biggest wuss of the Justice League.
Superman is supposed to be this good force in the world and Zack Snyder has made him this character you're supposed to mistrust, this darker person that isn't what the comics envisioned.
I agree with that. I think they turned Superman more into a love story than a superhero [story]. They gave Lois Lane -- I thought they gave her more of a role than what she needed. They made her more involved than she should have been. I understand that Superman does protect her. But we're still in the base, we're still in the "setting-up" movies. I don't care about Lois Lane. I care about the introduction of the Batman, which -- I love Ben Affleck.
I was going to ask you about him…
I think he did an amazing job based off Daredevil. Obviously he's no Christian Bale. I thought he did a good job.
I just couldn't get over the fact that this showdown between Batman and Superman comes to a halt over the name of both of their mothers.
Now that you say it, I started laughing, saying "what a coincidence." But I thought it was dumb. This man was on a vendetta to get Superman this whole movie and then all of a sudden he screams out his mom's name and Batman has a change of heart. I'm just like, "That's cool, but…"
*It seems like the D.C. Universe is trying to catch up to Marvel, which has built an entire cinematic universe with its own individual character movies. Zack Snyder is trying to catch up here and putting in all of these superheroes just to start this Justice League. *
He's rushing it. I still appreciate the fact that he's trying to include them, but don't rush it. I just feel like you'll have to end up re-doing it again, like a lot of movies have done.
Were you at least excited for this movie?
I was so excited for this movie. I was there at the midnight showing. I had to see it. I wasn't disappointed. I just expected more out of Superman. I didn't really expect much out of Batman. I knew he was going to whoop Superman. What really bothered me though was Batman put up a good fight against Superman, won that fight. But then when Doomsday came, Batman was ghost, hiding in the corner. Wonder Woman truthfully is the one that did all of the work. They made her stronger than Superman.
What's frustrating is that these movies always come down to some sort of large alien life-form threatening to destruct a city. That's why I liked Chris Nolan's Dark Knight series because it was based in a realistic world.
Doomsday was a big part of the comics though. Doomsday just looked like the [monster] from The Incredible Hulk though. He looked just like him.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, creating it, I never knew what his motive was in this movie.
I thought he did an amazing job as Lex Luthor. He brought a new element to Lex Luthor.
But what was his motive?
I didn't understand that either. He was setting all this stuff in motion for his own selfish reasons. But what was the point of it? You turned Batman against Superman, you did all of this stuff, what was the point? And then you're creating a Doomsday. Why didn't you create it in the beginning?
So are you more or less excited for the Justice League movie?
I think I'm more excited because this one was kind of rushed. I think they have to start explaining these characters. They can't just give us a glimpse of them. So I'm definitely more excited.
You tweeted the other day you saw "Concussion." Did you want to see this when it came out in December?
No. I didn't want to see the movie when I watched it. But it was late at night and it was there for rent for $3.99 and I was like, "Let's try this out." Despite the fact that I hated Will Smith's accent ("tell da troof"), I enjoyed the film. Watching from a player's perspective, and seeing the players that were [suffering] were bangers, they were the head busters of the league. And being a head buster, being a dog out there, it was a little scary. I'm not going to lie, I texted my pops and I was like, "Damn. This movie is crazy." But as a player, we all know what we're getting into when we play football. This movie's not going to stop me from letting my sons play. It just made me more aware of the situation.
Knowledge is power…
Yeah, once upon a time, I said I would be ignorant to the concussion thing. But knowledge is power. Knowing this, it's a large reason a lot of people are starting to retire. A lot of people are getting in and getting out. Football takes a toll on your body, man. That movie [shows] it takes a toll on your brain.
What scared you or impacted you the most in this movie?
One of the opening scenes, it was Mike Webster and he was just sitting there drinking in a field and he was already gone. His other teammate came up there and you can just tell he started feeling the effects of CTE and he was like "I'm stuttering, I'm forgetting stuff." Being able to relate to that stuff, that was scary to me, because I know what he feels. I know what he's saying. Nothing happened back-to-back, they were spread out. These guys were men who were at one point at the top of their games committing suicide. That was crazy. They were becoming abusive. It was insane to me. I think it made me wake up to that.
So you talked to your dad right after it finished?
I called my pops right after. He kind of eased my mind of the situation. He let me know, nobody's forcing you to play football. If you want to walk away from it you can. But if this is what you do, you know what you signed up for. I was like, you're right, I do. I love playing football and the movie just made me more aware of CTE and how serious it is.
But you don't change your style of play after watching this right?
No, you can't think of that. You can't go into a game thinking about not getting a concussion. It was more of an awareness thing, just understanding what CTE is and how it affects people differently.
*Were you able to separate the facts from the movie itself? Was it a good movie? *
I enjoyed the movie. I do realize that it was probably over-exaggerated in a sense. I'm sure some of the stuff that was going on – I can't speak on it, because it made it seem like the NFL was the mob and made this man's life a living hell. There was some bias in there. I can see why the NFL wanted to regulate it because they really made the NFL look bad. But knowing movies and knowing what sells tickets, I know some of it was over-exaggerated.