Concussion: Brave New Whistleblower or Anticlimactic Copout?

Let’s get you up to speed. Concussion is Sony Pictures’ new feature film coming out this Christmas featuring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who discovers Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of two NFL players.

Concussion Poster The trailer has already sparked interest into the story that has Will Smith like you’ve never seen him. Based on a true story, this film looks to be a hit as it showcases the controversial topic of the NFL’s safety protocol, and the controversy doesn’t stop there.

The preview reveals Dr. Omalu’s fight against National Football League executives to “tell the truth” when it comes to his recent findings. It even shows instances of Dr. Omalu being threatened and stalked by suspicious figures in attempt to coerce him into covering up his life’s work. This is juicy stuff in an era where many already question the NFL’s safety protocol when it comes to concussion prevention and treatment.

This film is expected to provide a great opportunity for us to take a deep look at how Sunday’s new devotion has put profit above anything else. After watching the captivating trailer, one would believe this film is opening the closet door to reveal what skeletons the NFL has been hiding. Or maybe at one point they were going to do that. And chickened out. You see, this is where things get sticky.

According to an article written by Ken Belson, Sony Pictures has “found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game.” The article cites dozens of emails that surfaced by hackers between Sony executives, representatives of Will Smith, and the film’s director, Peter Landesman.

Said emails involved discussion of “how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story rather than a condemnation of football or the league.” But wait, there’s more; another email stated that certain “unflattering moments for the NFL” were either altered or removed from the film entirely. Could these signs point to Sony’s fear of uncovering their own bogeyman?

Will Smith concussionConcussion’s director, Landesman, quickly came to the defense of Sony in a statement to the Associated Press stating that the movie, “never once compromised the integrity and power of the real story.” Instead, he claims that scenes were only altered in order to tell the story as accurately as possible; as well as to prevent lawsuits against the filmmakers for fabrication. He stated that cuts were only made to make the story, “better, richer, and fairer.”

Ironically enough, it may seem that the NFL has bullied Sony into softening up a film about the NFL bullying doctors. Sensing a trend here? Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves now, as every story has two sides that deserve to be heard.

Jeff Miller NFLThe NFL has released a recent report in order to have their voice added to the mix. Essentially, this report is “a robust resource on the steps the NFL continues to take to protect players through rule changes, advanced sideline technology, expanded medical resources, investing in protective equipment, a commitment to the wellness of retired players, and a focus on the overall youth sports safety.” The report defends the League’s stance with facts about its’ lowered concussion rates, increased player safety regulations, and growing culture of safety within the game.

The NFL Senior Vice President of Health and Safety Policy, Jeff Miller, said he would willingly work with Sony to raise awareness of safety issues. This invitation may not seem so warm after all considering Sony vetoed Landesman’s attempt to reach out to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for a meeting.

Three conclusions can be drawn from this mess.

The Ending: Sony altered and deleted a few scenes, as most movies do during the editing phase. They did so to keep the story compelling throughout and to avoid any lawsuits against the creative team for fabricating any exaggeration and will be delivering an accurate, bold product come December.

Alternate Ending #1: Sony released an exaggerated preview to hype the film before it releases during the peak of the NFL season and Oscar season. Sony is worried about the new Star Wars film and is taking extreme measures to save the anticlimactic film which will be seen by millions as a letdown.

Alternate Ending #2: Sony wanted to create a film that takes action against the NFL and inspires viewers demand fairness but they ultimately cracked under the pressure of the billionaire owners and executives. The NFL successfully salvages their image once again through scare tactics.

Which ending is the most accurate? You will only be able to determine for yourself this Christmas.

-Jason Vizzini

5 thoughts on “Concussion: Brave New Whistleblower or Anticlimactic Copout?

  1. This movie looks really interesting. I think one of the most important things to consider when taking on such a serious topic would be to make sure it’s done right. Taking out certain scenes because billionaires told them too is definitely a red flag to me as a creator of media. Hopefully it doesn’t take away from the power of the story, like Sony suggests.

  2. I think this movie looks really interesting! The most important thing to me a producer of media is when you’re doing a piece of this much power and importance, to make sure it is consistent with whatever actually happened. I think it is almost pointless to do a watered down version of something of this magnitude. Hopefully the power is expressed in this film and hasn’t been watered down, as Sony claims.

  3. I love Sony as a company and always have. But it hurts me to see them crack under the pressure of the NFL. Just because it is a sport that dominates our country doesn’t mean that it is without flaw. The fact that it is proven that there is brain trauma linked to football is an issue especially in young adults who are being raised into thinking that football is like fighting for their beliefs. At the end of the day it is just a sport. And the NFL needs to realize that something will have to be done eventually about the issues presented in this film and they can’t just threaten everyone that comes before them.

  4. Alternate ending #2 is definitely what took place here. The NFL used its extensive reach and power to attempt to conserve what little positive public image they have left. Anyone who pays attention to football or science knows concussions are a very real thing. The damage NFL players endure each weekend can become life-threatening. People knows this is a real issue and SONY wanted to really bring this to life, but the NFL, being the corrupt, hypocritical, and power-hungry organization it is, used their billion dollar influence to keep essential details out of this film.

  5. I wonder how much behind the scenes pull the NFL had, or if they had any kind of background involvement. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe they secretly funded this movie to just promote the NFL. Wouldn’t that be great?

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