Will Smith in talks to star in NFL concussions movie as issue goes Hollywood

(Andrew Kelly / Reuters)
(Andrew Kelly / Reuters)

Will Smith is in talks to star in a movie treatment of the NFL’s concussion problem — one of several film projects involving the league’s least-favorite topic.

Smith would play Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brain of former Pittburgh Steelers lineman Mike Webster at autopsy, in a film that will be written and directed by Peter Landesman, who did “Parkland.” The movie will be based on the GQ story “Game Brain,” written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, according to Variety. This version is expected to be a whistle-blower tale, Variety reports, “in the vein of ‘The Insider’ humanizing the price paid by professional athletes.”

Also in development is a project based on “League Of Denial: The NFL, Concussions And The Battle For Truth.” That book, was written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, was also the subject of a joint PBS/ESPN project from which ESPN withdrew. The network denied that it was pressured by the NFL, a broadcast partner, to withdraw from the production but stood by the work of  its reporters, Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru.

An independent production called “Game Time Decision” is expected to star Isiah Washington as a retired player dealing with the aftermath of repeated concussions.

“I was shocked to learn my former Bengals teammate Chris Henry, who died at the young age of 26 from a truck accident, suffered from CTE,” Matthew Cherry, the writer and director of “Game Time Decision,” told Deadline Hollywood. “My goal is to truthfully present what life is like for a person that suffers from this disease and to further the conversation on how CTE impacts players and their family members.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Matt Bonesteel · June 4

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