A Hollywood studio is doing itself and the public a disservice by pressing for changes in a soon-to-be released movie about the dangers to football players of repeated blows to the head.
Sony Pictures Entertainment embarked on an ambitious project centering on what happens to professional football players when they absorb hits to the head repeatedly throughout their careers.
The movie, “Concussion,” stars Hollywood A-lister Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, a scientist whose work diagnosing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to constant blows to the head, exposed an alarming side effect of a long career on the field.
It’s too bad the message may have been diluted.
Unknown hackers released dozens of emails involving Sony executives. In some of the emails, first reported on Reddit, the back-and-forth at the very least gives the appearance of attempting to mollify the National Football League.
According to a New York Times story published in The Buffalo News, director Peter Landesman and representatives of Will Smith discussed how to “avoid antagonizing the NFL” by changing the script and marketing the film to make it “more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league.”
The serious effects of repeated blows to the head throughout a long career, from pee-wee football to the pros, cannot be understated.
Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters and Pittsburgh Steelers guard Terry Long all committed suicide. They were discovered afterward to have CTE. Both Seau and Duerson shot themselves in the chest just so their brains could later be examined.
Last year, News sports reporter Tim Graham sat down for an exclusive interview with former Buffalo Bills linebacker Darryl Talley, who talked about suffering dozens of concussions and shared his own concerns that he will develop CTE.
In April, a federal district court judge gave her final approval to a deal settling concussion claims, after an agreement was originally reached in August 2013. The billion dollars it is expected to cost the league over 65 years to end thousands of concussion lawsuits pales in comparison to what these players suffered.
Football can be a brutal sport. Players know that going in, but much of the public may not realize how brutal it can be. Because Hollywood knows how to tell a story to a wide audience, “Concussion,” even if not as originally conceived, will still be illuminating.