From the trailer, the to-be-released Will Smith movie "Concussion" looks like a horror flick for the NFL: A feature-length drama that details the league's past efforts to silence and ignore the growing medical concerns regarding head traumas and their affects on football players.
In the trailer, Smith -- who portrays Dr. Bennet Omalu, one of the pioneers of the discovery and research of the degenerative brain condition known as CTE -- is portrayed as being in a constant battle with football powers that have no interest in caring for the well-being of players.
According to documents obtained by The New York Times, though, the movie ultimately falls well short of indicting the NFL, or even casting the league in an overtly bad light. As the film was produced and edited, Sony Entertainment decided not to turn out a product that challenged the NFL.
The NYT reports that Sony executives, the movie's director, and Will Smith's representatives all "discussed how to avoid antagonizing the NFL by altering the script and marketing the film more as a story, rather than a condemnation of football or the league."
In other words, it chickened out. It started with a compelling product -- one that could dramatically shift the public discourse surrounding head traumas -- and instead, it backed down, opting instead for a product that wouldn't invite a legal battle with the NFL.
Instead, Sony went so far as to hire an NFL consultant who would "to ensure that we are telling a dramatic story and not kicking the hornet's nest."
A series of emails revealed how executives and other involved parties felt that prior incarnations of the film should be edited to be "less threatening" to the NFL.
That process played out as follows: "'unflattering moments for the NFL' were deleted or changed, while in another correspondence, a top Sony lawyer is said to have taken 'most of the bite' out of the film 'for legal reasons with the NFL and that it was not a balance issue."
Kiss those dreams of a Merry NFL-Torpedoing Christmas goodbye. Instead, you'll see Will Smith doing what he normally does: cashing in as fans flock to theaters, expecting more than what they get.