Sony Pictures plans to use the city of Pittsburgh as the backdrop for their upcoming big budget film. The movie is titled “Game Brain”, and is a drama focusing on the NFL concussion controversy. Hall of Fame center “Iron” Mike Webster, who died at the age of 50 in 2002, is reportedly the primary focus of the movie.
Webster earned 4 super bowl rings, 9 Pro Bowl nominations, and 9 All Pro selections during his 15 years with the Steelers. While the Steelers don’t officially retire jersey numbers, Webster’s #52 has not been reissued since his retirement. Resisting the urge to go off on a tangent here, but Mike Webster deserves more notoriety for his accolades and his tenure as the anchor of the Steelers offensive line. He had the longest career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, with Hines Ward’s 14 years coming in at a close second.
The story of Webster’s final years is a sad one. The retired center suffered from amnesia, dementia, and depression, as well as several other physical impairments from the abuse his body endured over his long NFL career. Aside from the physical and mental issues the hall of famer battled, he was also reportedly homeless and living in his pick up truck.
Mike Webster bought himself a Taser gun, used that on himself to treat his back pain, would zap himself into unconsciousness just to get some sleep. Mike Webster lost all his money, or maybe gave it away. He forgot. A lot of lawsuits. Mike Webster forgot how to eat, too. Soon Mike Webster was homeless, living in a truck, one of its windows replaced with a garbage bag and tape.
Webster’s story was thrust back into the national spotlight last fall when it was featured in the Frontline special “League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”. You can watch the full video here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/
Mike Webster is featured mainly towards the beginning.
Back to the Game Brain movie…Will Smith is slated to star in the film. He will play Dr. Bennet Omalu, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Webster and the man who coined the acronym CTE. Omalu also performed tests on the brains of former Steelers linemen Terry Long and Justin Strzelczyk during his CTE research. About being portrayed by Will Smith in the movie, Omalu issued a statment saying that I’m “humbled that my hard work and contribution to the advancement of science is being recognized.”
The state of Pennsylvania awarded “Game Brain” $14.4 million in film tax credits, according to the Pennsylvania Film Office via the Trib. A portion of that money was originally awarded to Legendary Pictures, but filming had to be postponed. Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull is the founder and CEO of Legendary Pictures.