American football is a sport apparently just made for television. There is an entire Wiki page called “National Football League on television.” It begins:
The television rights to broadcast National Football League (NFL) games are the most lucrative and expensive rights of any American sport. It was television that brought professional football into prominence in the modern era after World War II. Since then, NFL broadcasts have become among the most-watched programs on American television, and the financial fortunes of entire networks have rested on owning NFL broadcasting rights.
This year, however, the NFL has been preoccupied with some new venues beyond TV – ones not normally associated with football. Courtrooms, for example. There’s “Deflategate” (see our last coverage here) and Tom Brady’s lawsuit against the NFL. (I recognize this is a serious issue but on the other hand, most people are tracking this story via TV news reports about the courtroom sketches of Tom Brady. Uh boy.)
Perhaps a more serious legal case – at least for players generally - surrounds the NFL’s legal settlement earlier with year with “5,000 retirees who sued the N.F.L. for hiding from them the dangers of concussions.” Wrote the New York Times a couple weeks ago, “The settlement, which was approved by a Federal District Court judge in April, could include $1 billion or more for retirees with certain severe neurological diseases and an unlimited amount for neuro-cognitive testing.”
However, several players – although less that 1 percent of them - are appealing the settlement, alleging that:
[T]he deal is unfair because it does not cover future diagnoses of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological condition linked to repeated hits to the head. These players also question how eligibility for payments is calculated, among other issues.…
The N.F.L. and the lawyers who negotiated the settlement on behalf of the players will have a month to respond to the filings, and the appellants will then have two weeks to file their rebuttals. A panel of three judges may hear oral arguments as early as October, and there is no timetable for them to rule. The panel could also push the N.F.L. and plaintiffs lawyers toward mediation.
No payments will be made to players until all appeals are exhausted…
No doubt, the NFL thought this settlement would put the concussion issue behind them. Not gonna happen. Appeals, continuing injuries and now - enter Hollywood! This December – i.e., playoff season - a new movie from Sony Pictures starring Will Smith will be in theaters all across the globe. It’s called Concussion. Writes USA Today:
It's safe to say the NFL won't be giving Concussion two thumbs up.
With its star cast, big-studio backing and a Christmas Day release, the movie has the potential to do what a Hall of Famer’s suicide, protracted lawsuits and reams of scientific data could not: Present the horrors of football’s concussion crisis in such simple and compelling fashion that no one will ever see the NFL in the same way again.…
Concussion is the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who unearthed the link between football and head trauma. It was Omalu who put a name to the disease that destroyed the brains of countless former players and led Junior Seau and several others to kill themselves.…
The details of Omalu’s story are not new, having been told time and again in interviews for stories, books and documentaries. Nor is the NFL’s callous indifference to the health of its former players a revelation, exposed in court testimony and depositions.
Yet more than a decade after Omalu first discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, setting off the concussion crisis, the NFL is bigger than ever.
It has revenues of $10 billion, making NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s goal of $25 billion by 2027 seem conservative. TV contracts have skyrocketed, and three teams are fighting for the right to call the lucrative Los Angeles market home.
People who love football will see the film because, let’s be honest, they’ll watch just about anything related to football. But people who don’t know the Browns from the Bengals will see the movie because it stars Smith, Alec Baldwin and Luke Wilson, whose movies have a combined gross of more than $5 billion.
People who have no clue what Deflategate is, let alone care, will see Concussion because it’s the winter holidays and they’re looking for something to do. People who are indifferent to sports of any kind will see it because they were intrigued by the slick, intense trailer.
"You're going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week." Yup. And here it is: