Will Smith to Star in New NFL Movie About Controversial Brain Disorders
Will Smith is rumored to be starring in new controversial NFL film discussing brain injuries titled Game Brain. The movie will focus on former Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike Webster and his health decline from his NFL career. The 45-year-old actor would play Dr. Bennet Omalu who was one of the first medical professionals to look football players' brains and the effects in the long term.
Steelers center Mike Webster dominated his position like few before him, winning four Super Bowls and earning a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The movie is reported to be filming in Pittsburgh. The Sony Pictures film is based on a 2009 GQ article that examined how the NFL attempted to discredit then-Allegheny County forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu. Dr. Omalu discovered evidence linking football-related brain injuries to dementia while examining Webster after his 2002 death.
Game Brain will be produced by Ridley Scott, Giannina Facio, David Wolthoff and Larry Shuman and directed by Peter Landesman, according to Sony.
"We are thrilled to welcome Sony Pictures to Southwest Pennsylvania," said Dawn Keezer, director of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Film Office.
Omalu studied Webster's brain for weeks after his death in September 2002 while working at the county coroner's office and wrote about his studies and findings in the medical journal, "Neurosurgery." His findings eventually grew to include more than a dozen players, including former Steelers Justin Strzelczyk and Terry Long. The National Football League is not like his discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease known as CTE and tried to discredit it.
Omalu is currently the chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, Calif., and a professor at UC-Davis.
Omalu issued a statement on Will Smith portraying him saying he's "humbled that my hard work and contribution to the advancement of science is being recognized."
Webster played 17 seasons in the NFL, from 1974 to 1990. He died on Sept. 24, 2002, at age 50. His doctors determined Webster had a closed-head football injury, but the NFL fought disability claims. This came even after Fitzsimmons said the league's pension board in 1998 ruled that Webster suffered football-related injuries that led to permanent brain damage. Webster's family was awarded $1.18 million in disability benefits dating when a federal judge ruled on their behalf.
CTE, definitively revealed by brain examination upon death, sometimes is found in athletes who experience repeated blows to the head. The disease is marked by problems with impulse control, headaches, slurred speech, memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia.
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