BEREA, OH - FILE: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Berea, Ohio. It was reported on May 2, 2012 that linebacker Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns) along with three other players have been suspended by the NFL for their role in the New Orleans Saints' bounty system. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
I just spent the last half hour of my life (on vacation, mind you) reading through documentary filmmaker Sean Pamphilon's latest essay about the Gregg Williams audio he released back in early April, called "When you kill the head, the body doesn't die." It's an incredibly long and incredibly detailed blow-by-blow account of the entire decision making process behind the release of that audio, including actual text messages from Scott Fujita and Drew Brees.
Much of it is what you'd expect. But Pamphilon's honest thoughts about how he was burned by both Brees and Fujita during the process is pretty interesting stuff.
Below is an excerpt from Pamphilon's diatribe detailing how Brees and his marketing team refused to allow the filmmaker to use interview material that he had already been given permission to use, a big no-no in the business:
Drew Brees calls me at close to 9pm and we talk for about 20 minutes. I am video taping my side of the conversation, as I know I am dealing with powerful people and believe I need an accurate record of what transpired. If this went bad, I knew no one would believe me. Early in my conversation with Brees, I realize that either what Scott Fujita had told me is incorrect, or Drew Brees is calling an audible. Drew is saying we need to "wait for the right time" to release the audio. I inform him that there is no going back and that the article has already been in the works for several hours. I tell him that there is no way I am leaving town (in 34 hours) for 4 days with all of this up and the air. I tell him emphatically, I will not leave my family with all these people knowing about it and the audio still unreleased. As a father of two sons, himself, I expected him to understand.
Two months earlier I had interviewed Drew for "The United States of Football," in his hotel room in Indianapolis. We were both there for the Super Bowl. Before the brief interview began I handed him a talent release, allowing me to display his interview in the film. Standard operating procedure. Kurt Warner didn't hesitate signing is and he won a Super Bowl and played in three. The NFLPA Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith didn't hesitate.
But Drew Brees did a double take and looked me in the eye, "Are these okay?"
"They're okay," I responded, looking him directly in the eye and tacitly demanding he sign them by creating an uncomfortable moment. They were standard releases. He signed them and we conducted a brief interview...
Somehow I forgot those releases in Drew's hotel room and when I asked for them later that night, he decided his agent needed to look a them first. Thing is, is he had already signed them and went on the record with his comments. Words cannot describe how unprofessional it is for an athlete to do that to someone in my profession. It is literally a Cardinal Sin in my business. I believe it was his marketing agent who balked and said no dice, eventually, without them being able to see the ENTIRE film, first. To sign a release and sit for an on-the-record interview and then back out is beyond professionally inappropriate. It would be like an official taking away a touchdown because "they felt like it."
His representative told my production partner that he was not interested in seeing the bold headline, "Drew Brees in concussion documentary."
I never forgot that. Therefore, after that moment, I never trusted Drew to be a stand-up guy, like I knew Scott Fujita to be.
As it turns out, Pamphilon may have had the wrong impression of Fujita as well. Because as the heat began to get turned up, Fujita also started pulling back his involvement in the crusade for truth, one he was previously adamant about:
Two days after Drew Brees is quoted in a published report that there is no meaningful "evidence" that a bounty system exists, I sent Scott a text saying, "Are you gong to leave me to hang out to dry, publicly, Scott? I"m getting f***ed hard and my future is at stake. Do any of you care? I don't need you in this film ("The United States of Football") but I thought you had more character than this. I am a f***ing human being with a family. Seriously. I took care of you on my own accord and you are sitting back, talking to lawyers while the wolves eat me alive...wake the f*** up, dude and listen to your goddamn conscience."
Soon thereafter I take Scott Fujita's picture off our website and let him know we are no longer interested in him participating in "The United States of Football."
Pamphilon reaches out to Fujita one final time, but again is shut out:
I text Scott Fujita, "I sent you an e-mail. I am in serious trouble. I know I have been angry, but please do not tune me out."
In the e-mail I discuss with Scott the dramatic turn my life has taken, the pressure I am under and the fractures it has caused in my relationships with people close to me. I tell him I need for him to clarify my role in this matter.
My plea for fairness and guidance fell on deaf ears and he does not respond.
Thus is the story of a spurned documentary filmmaker. My guess is that this reluctance to speak out on the part of the players has not only pissed off Pamphilon, but also sprung him into further action. Hence his desire to explain his side of the story in this very detailed behind-the-scenes account.