According to hacked emails, Sony Pictures Entertainment hoped to prevent drawing the ire of the National Football League by heavily editing the upcoming film Concussion, which stars Will Smith as a doctor who sets out to find the truth about controversial head injuries in football.
After reviewing the emails, The New York Times reported Tuesday Sony’s attorneys had altered certain scenes from the highly anticipated film, in hopes of not “antagonizing” the league, while also ensuring the movie told a dramatic story.
In one 2014 email, Sony president of domestic marketing, Dwight Caines, wrote of Will Smith’s role” “Will is not anti football (nor is the movie) and isn’t planning to be a spokesman for what football should be or shouldn’t be but rather is an actor taking on an exciting challenge.”
Caines’ email to other top studio executives reads, “We’ll develop messaging with the help of N.F.L. consultant to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet’s nest.”
Another email says that “unflattering moments for the NFL” were scrapped or altered, while another online conversation reveals an attorney for Sony had taken “most of the bite” out of the film, citing “legal reasons with the NFL and that it was not a balance issue.”
Concussion will debut in December, and follows the work of forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu, played by Smith, who helped diagnose Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease commonly found in the brains of American football players, which is better known as CTE.
The existence of CTE in late football stars, including Junior Seau and Jovan Belcher, to name a few, has been controversial, and some investigations have concluded the NFL attempted to cover-up a link between football and head injuries.
Watch the first trailer for Concussion below:
The NFL has not yet comented on the film’s first trailer, however, Sony issued a statement in response of the New York Times piece Wednesday:“As will become immediately clear to anyone actually seeing the movie, nothing with regard to this important story has been ‘softened’ to placate anyone.”
The 2013 PBS film League of Denial covered the investigative reporting of Mark Fanairu-Wada and Steve Fanairu, and highlights the lengths the league allegedly took to dismiss and cover-up the possibility concussions suffered playing football are responsible for causing long-term brain injuries.
Despite claims made about the safety of playing football in League of denial, evidence does not completely support an assertion that mortality rates among football stars are as high as critics of playing football say.
Breitbart Sports Editor Daniel J. Flynn argued for the safety of the sport in August on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, saying, “I think if you’re going to have an honest conversation about football the place to start would be to look at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health review of 3,500 NFL players.
Flynn added: “What they found—with these players between 1959 and 1988 that played five or more years—is that they outlive their peers in society. In other words, the guys watching from the stands had a death rate of 18 percent and the guys playing on the field had a death rate of 10 percent. They had better health outcomes when it came to cancer, respiratory illness, heart disease. Just about every disease category that they looked at the football players did better.”
Daniel J. Flynn covers those points and others more thoroughly in his book, “The War on Football: Saving America’s Game.”