Last year ESPN suspended Bill Simmons for calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a liar during his B.S. Report podcast. If the league thought that was a PR headache, Will Smith’s newest movie is going to feel like getting run over by Ndamukong Suh.
The first trailer for Concussion shows Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who goes up against the NFL after discovering that former pro footballers were suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neuro-degenerative disease caused by repeated trauma to the head. The film is based on the 2009 GQ article “Game Brain,” and makes the NFL look like a cross between Vader’s Empire and the Cold War KGB. Which isn’t exactly a good look for a family-friendly, All-American brand.
NFL owners have reportedly already discussed ways in which to respond to the film, and with the new season set to kick off, don’t expect them to wait until the Concussion hits theatres on December 25. Some of the studio’s inner workings with and around the NFL were exposed late last year when WikiLeaks published more than 200,000 internal Sony Pictures Entertainment documents and e-mails. Other reports contend that the studio has long prepared for a PR battle with the league over the film.
Either way, if the trailer is anything to go on, the NFL is getting one Hollywood-sized lump of brand image coal in its stocking this Christmas. And it looks like Simmons agrees.