BOSTON (CBS) — Roger Goodell is due in federal court on Monday to continue his seven-month fight to take down Tom Brady. But that may not be the biggest problem facing the NFL commissioner on Monday.
Sony Pictures released its trailer for the upcoming film “Concussion,” and it does not look good for the NFL.
The trailer, released via Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, depicts the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Pittsburgh doctor who had to fight through the juggernaut NFL in order to share the discovery of CTE — a condition in the brain which Omalu determined came from repeated trauma to the head.
Will Smith portrays Dr. Omalu in the film, and it looks powerful, to say the least.
The film already had the attention of the owners back in July, when they reportedly “spent significant time at their May 2015 meeting discussing how to deal with and respond to the movie ‘Concussion.'”
The NFL had a long history of denying any link between repeated blows to the head and the development of CTE, though the league has admitted some responsibility toward retired players’ health, as evidenced by the concussion settlement reached recently.
Yet certain images are sure to prove jarring to the American public, many of whom have not followed the NFL’s denial of concussions very closely and/or have not read the book or watched the documentary “League Of Denial.” In particular, there are two quick shots of somebody (presumably a former player) reaching for a handgun, as well as footage of Justin Strzelczyk’s car exploding after the former Steeler drove faster than 100 mph the wrong way on a highway, shown behind Dr. Omalu’s character saying, “If they continue to deny my work, men continue to die.” That follows someone telling Dr. Omalu’s character, “[The people from the NFL] want you to say you made it all up.”
Based on the trailer, the portrayal of the league essentially strong-arming and intimidating Dr. Omalu is a public relations nightmare for the league.
“No proof was presented today,” an NFL spokesman states at a press conference in the trailer, “because there simply isn’t any.”
The ultimate impact of the film may not affect TV ratings on Sundays, but at the very least, it will introduce the story to millions of Americans who otherwise might have been none the wiser on the topic. And it could put Goodell in an awfully uncomfortable position with the season opener just 10 days away.