After being sacked by the league, Stone had to get creative to gain access to film in an actual NFL stadium. Jerry Jones, who purchased the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and immediately fired beloved longtime head coach Tom Landry, was the sole NFL owner to cooperate.
“We barely got the stadiums. Jerry Jones helped by telling them to f*** off and giving us Texas Stadium. It was a fight all the way,” Stone said. “And then when the film came out, the NFL went out of its way to completely blackball us.” Stone continued, “There was no coverage from the sports shows. It was not fun to fight them, it’s like fighting the Pentagon.”
The NFL had a reason to fight Stone. Critics and players alike say there’s a lot of realism in the film. “I would say ‘Any Given Sunday’ is Oliver Stone’s fever dream of what the NFL is like,” said Will Leitch on SI at the Movies. “And the irony, of course, is that it’s actually not that far off from what it is.”
Former NFL receiver NFL Greg Jennings agreed. In the same video he said:
“A lot of components in that movie that are just flat-out real. The concept of not playing, guys getting hurt, you being inserted, guys shooting up, doing whatever it takes to stay on the football field, getting the big hit, letting winning and their individual success divide them from the guys in the locker room, it happens!”
As outrageous as “Any Given Sunday” might seem, Stone does a masterful job of exposing serious issues facing NFL players. Rather than cooperate with the respected Oscar-winning director, the NFL played defense and fought Stone at every turn. It’s ironic that Stone managed to make “Any Given Sunday” at all, especially with the help of the renegade owner who ushered in the corporate era of the NFL.