Skip to main content

Sony hack emails suggest ‘most of the bite’ is gone from the original Concussion script

When Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension was overturned in Federal Court Thursday, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s already dubious legacy took another huge hit. Some took this as a sign that the multi-billion dollar entity that is the National Football League had lost some of its sway, but another piece of news broke yesterday that put that theory to rest.

Concussion, starring Will Smith, has been looming on the league’s horizon for quite a while now and — while many believed that the film could have a destructive impact on the league’s brand — it now appears that the script was watered down to avoid legal trouble.

The film presents the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist that conducted the autopsy of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, leading to the discovery of a progressive, degenerative brain disease dubbed chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

In other words: One of the guys who discovered that concussions weren’t just bad, but rather, really, really, bad. For a sport that has had 446 concussion-related cases in just the last three seasons, it was paradigm-shifting news. That being said, many believed the Sony Pictures film could vault the issue into the national consciousness and force the NFL to answer for its handling of the issue.

In light of this New York Times piece, however, that now seems less likely.

The news outlet revealed yesterday that emails recovered after last year’s Sony hack appear to show that the studio stripped some of the more critical language from the script for fear of legal reprisals.

An email dated August 1, 2014, said that some “unflattering moments for the NFL” were changed or omitted entirely and, in a July 30, 2014 correspondence, a top Sony lawyer is identified as having taken “most of the bite” out of the upcoming film. “Legal reasons” were cited as the impetus for the move and it appears that Sony Pictures wants to do its best to avoid the inside of a courtroom.

Director Peter Landesman, however, has denied changing the script simply to placate the NFL and claims that the tweaks were only made to ensure that the film’s script was factually air-tight:

“We don’t want to give the NFL a toehold to say, ‘They are making it up,’ and damage the credibility of the movie. Here were things that might have been creatively fun to have actors say that might not have been accurate in the heads of the NFL or doctors. We might have gotten away with it legally, but it might have damaged our integrity as filmmakers. We didn’t have a need to make up anything because it was powerful and revelatory on its own. There was never an instance where we compromised the storytelling to protect ourselves from the NFL.”

Without knowing exactly what was removed, it’s tough to pass judgment, but it now seems possible that those who were hoping for a highly critical film with real teeth may be left wanting. We’ll find out for sure this Christmas when the movie hits theaters.

Concussion is currently in post-production and also stars Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Thor: Dark World, Pompeii) and Alec Baldwin. You can check out the trailer above.

Editors' Recommendations

F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Live Stream: How to watch for free
F1 Grand Prix of Mexico

Want to watch the Saudi Arabian GP? The race -- the 2nd in the 74th Formula 1 World Championship -- starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT, and is being broadcast exclusively on ESPN in the United States. There are some other options available though for people traveling abroad and tuning in from other countries, including a free Saudi Arabian GP live stream. With the racers getting ready to hit the track soon, time is running out to figure out how you're going to tune in. Here's everything you need to know about how to watch today's F1 live stream.
Watch the free F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix live stream

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is being aired for free in Austria and Luxembourg. This is great news for those in the countries, but devastating for residents traveling abroad who want to watch the action unfold live in their local language — especially when it’s free to watch at home. It’s only fitting that an Austrian currently in the United States would want to watch the race in Austrian and not English, right? This is completely safe (and legal) to do with a VPN.

Read more
Inter Milan vs Juventus live stream: How to watch for free
A soccer field.

For soccer fans, Serie A is easily one of the more captivating soccer leagues around. Alongside the English Premier League, it offers some of the best soccer you'll see. Inter Milan vs Juventus is sure to be a thrilling match thanks to both teams having a rich history of exceptional soccer playing. To watch the Inter Milan vs Juventus live stream, there's only one streaming service with exclusive rights to the league -- Paramount Plus. We're here to tell you how to watch it and how to watch Inter Milan vs Juventus for free.
Watch the Inter Milan vs Juventus live stream on Paramount Plus

Paramount Plus is the exclusive home of Serie A with all 380 games available through the service. While Paramount Plus hasn't reached the heights of other streaming services, its sports coverage is steadily growing so it's a good option for sports fans. Both soccer and NFL are catered for here although don't count on seeing it in 4K. Paramount Plus is also the home of all things Star Trek including Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, as well as South Park, and Top Gun Maverick. Yellowstone is also a huge hit if you need something else to watch after catching the Serie A games. Paramount Plus is pretty cheap from $6 per month but there's also a seven day free trial. If you solely want to watch Inter Milan vs Juventus for free, this is your best bet.

Read more
Barcelona vs Real Madrid live stream: How to watch for free
A soccer goal net with the rest of the pitch in front.

Kicking off later today, Barcelona vs Real Madrid is going to be quite the battle in La Liga. Both teams are similarly matched and you can't really get a bigger competition than the one between these two. If you need the best way to watch the Barcelona vs Real Madrid live stream, you need ESPN+. It's the exclusive home of live La Liga soccer in the US with that unlikely to change for a number of years. If you've never dived into streaming before, we're here to help with a look at what to expect and how to watch the Barcelona vs Real Madrid live stream even if you're traveling.
Watch the Barcelona vs Real Madrid live stream on ESPN Plus

ESPN+ is the exclusive home of La Liga but it's also the home of many other sports. It's the main outlet for streaming UFC fights, the only way to watch UFC pay-per-view as well as the home of a selection of English Premier League games. That's before you dive into its extensive selection of football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and a bunch more. There's also the 30 for 30 documentary series which provides award-winning insight into everything else you could want to know about your favorite sports and sporting heroes. ESPN+ costs $10 per month so it's well-priced for extensive live and on-demand sporting coverage.

Read more