While promoting programs to reduce the risk of concussions, the NFL has simultaneously attempted to stifle negative publicity. In August, Junior Seau’s daughter was prevented from speaking on his behalf during the Hall of Fame ceremony, a decision that engendered more negative publicity than her statements likely would have. Instead, she was allowed to speak in a contrived interview format.
Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest after suffering with troubling neurological symptoms and disruptions in mood and functioning for years. It was thought that he shot himself in the chest so that researchers could check his brain for CTE, which, it was determined, he had.
When the trailer for Concussion was released, it was also reported that the NFL attempted to censor the movie so its impact would be less damaging for the league. The New York Times reported that Sony Pictures changed some aspects of the film after receiving complaints from NFL representatives. The emails, made available to the public after the hacker incident several months ago, revealed that “unflattering moments for the NFL” were deleted. Some modifications were made out of fear of legal retaliation from the NFL, according to separate emails that noted “most of the bite” was taken out of the film.
The president of Sony Pictures marketing wrote in an email, as reported in The New York Times, “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.”
In fact, the focus of the movie has changed from an indictment of the NFL and its attempts to cover up a distressing trend. It is now more of a human-interest story tracking the journey of Dr. Benjamin Omalu, a pioneer in CTE research.
This is not the first time the NFL has thwarted efforts of truth-telling. In 2013 ESPN pulled out of a documentary about head injuries in the NFL after complaints from the league. “Frontline” ended up airing the documentary.
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