Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon rips NFL for its hypocrisy
BY KALYN KAHLER Staff Reporter August 23, 2013 8:26PM
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) hits Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (11) during the second quarter of a an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. Harrison was fined $75,000, for his hit against Massaquoi. The NFL's brain, neck and spine committee meets Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, to talk about possible changes to helmets and other equipment. (AP Photo/Don Wright, File)
Updated: September 25, 2013 6:12AM
The NFL’s $21,000 fine on Bears rookie linebacker Jon Bostic for his hit on Chargers wide receiver Mike Willie could be the start of an expensive season for defensive players.
‘‘United States of Football,’’ a documentary by Sean Pamphilon, looks into the reasons the league is cracking down on explosive hits.
It was released Friday nationwide and locally at theaters in Rosemont, Elmhurst, Wheaton, Gurnee and St. Charles.
In the film, Pamphilon ponders whether to let his son play football after tracking retired NFL players suffering the consequences of head injuries and researching the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease responsible for the death of several retired players.
“I started because I was a dad trying to figure out if I wanted my son to play the game,” Pamphilon said while in Chicago promoting the film. “The idea is to take the helmet off the player and get people to realize that they have the same issues as you do.”
“What we did on the field is what makes us heroes; what we need now is what makes us human,” said former Giants All-Pro defensive end Leonard Marshall, who’s featured in the film.
Marshall, who had 831/2 sacks in his 12-year career, said if he were playing in today’s regulated game, he’d be paying several fines like Bostic’s.
“When you’re taught to lead with your headgear and to seek and destroy, guess what? You’re going to do that,” said Marshall, who was diagnosed as CTE symptomatic.
Bostic’s fine is controversial because, originally, the NFL posted a highlight video of his hit on its website.
Pamphilon drew parallels between the NFL’s contradictory treatment of Bostic’s hit and ex-Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s hit on Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010. The NFL fined Harrison $75,000 but simultaneously sold photos of the hit online.
“That’s the sick part,” Pamphilon said. “They only removed his pictures because the hypocrisy was pointed out. What happened with Bostic, that’s standard operating procedure. They know exactly what they’re doing.”
ESPN originally supported the film, but Pamphilon said it withdrew support because of pressure from the NFL.
“When they saw the final cut, they wouldn’t endorse it,” Pamphilon said. “They told us they were concerned about what the NFL would say. They didn’t give a [bleep] about what the NFL Players Association said.”
ESPN withdrew support from another investigative project by PBS’ “Frontline” regarding head injuries in the NFL. The New York Times reported Friday that this decision also was motivated by pressure from the league.
“It’s all about the relationships, and the reason [CTE] doesn’t get covered is because everybody wants the money,” Pamphilon said.