He’s baaack. And this time he’s trying to sell a movie.
Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who breached the trust of former Saints defensive back Steve Gleason by releasing audio of a cartoonish rant from former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams captured ostensibly for Gleason’s personal use, has finished The United States of Football, a documentary that focuses on head injuries in America’s most popular sport.
Either conveniently or coincidentally, Pamphilon claims ESPN pulled support for his film due to concerns regarding the NFL’s reaction.
“When they saw the final cut, they wouldn’t endorse it,” Pamphilon tells the Chicago Sun-Times. “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.”
Pamphilon’s claim comes a day after the New York Times reported that ESPN abandoned a concussion-related partnership with PBS due to pressure from the league.
We asked ESPN for comment. We anticipated a strong and specific denial. Instead, the response was vague and general.
“Since the early 1990s, ESPN has set a high standard in our reporting of this topic,” ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer said via email. “While we will not specifically address this effort, in general it is fair to say that not every project we initially discuss on any subject matter makes it to air on our platforms.”
Unless ESPN has decided as a business practice not to engage in pissing matches with those who would attempt to use ESPN’s brand for publicity purposes, the ambiguous response suggests that Pamphilon’s version of the events may indeed be accurate.
Regardless, it’s curious that Pamphilon would make the claim only after word emerged of another situation in which ESPN was reportedly was squeezed by the NFL to tiptoe around the topic of head injuries. Then again, it’s not the first time Pamphilon has engaged in curious timing; he did nothing about Gregg Williams audio that supposedly until after the Saints had been busted by the NFL for having a bounty system.