If you’re debating whether or not to see “Concussion” – which chronicles the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who uncovers the truth about concussion-related brain damage – know this: the film was not backed by NFL pockets. It is not PR for the league; rather, it is truth for football fans everywhere.
“It’s a real interesting question, and there’s been a lot of controversy over it,” Sony chairman Tom Rothman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “There was a front-page New York Times article that basically accused us and the moviemakers of kowtowing to the NFL, and I can tell you absolutely and categorically the answer to that is no. It’s interesting. This comes out through Columbia Pictures. Columbia is a part of Sony, and we are one of the few movie studios that is not affiliated with an NFL network, with a network that carries the NFL. I used to work at FOX. Could FOX have done it? Could Disney and ESPN have have done it? Could Universal or NBC have done this movie? I wonder what the NFL would have said about that. But we aren’t beholden to the NFL; we’re beholden to the truth. The truth is what guided us and what guided the film makers.”
The film, which stars Will Smith, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance, comes out Dec. 25.
What will a viewer’s impression of the NFL be after seeing this film?
“Well, I wouldn’t think it would be great, to tell you the honest truth,” Rothman said. “We like to be clever out here in Hollywood. We think we are, anyway; we probably aren’t. But ‘Concussion,’ the title has two meanings. It has the obvious one, but it also had the meaning of (a) collision of two forces. And that’s the very powerful force of the league – maybe the greatest, overwhelming corporate force in sports – on the one side, and a lone, underestimated, dismissed individual on the other side in Dr. Omalu. So you have a giant corporate force that tried to do everything. They tried to disown him, they tried to discredit him, they tried to dismiss his research, they tried to whitewash it – and he kept going.
“So the price of admission to the movie is to see how one man who has the truth on his side can make a difference – and he makes a difference,” Rothman continued. “The reason that we’re all talking about it now and the reason that the league (has owned) up to its responsibilities now is because of this guy. Maybe in a way, (he) was naive. Maybe in a way, he didn’t know what they were going to try to do to him. But he just kept going.”