Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Will Smith Movie Shooting in Town

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Will Smith Movie Shooting in Town

Article excerpt

Move over, Vin Diesel. The Will Smith movie with the working title of "Concussion" started shooting in Pittsburgh Saturday and will film here through mid-January.

Mr. Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the first pathologist in the world to detect a long-developing brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE in a former football player.

The year was 2002 and the player was retired Steelers center Mike Webster who died at age 50 of a heart attack. His brain, it turned out, was filled with tangles of a protein called tau, attributed to the thousands of head collisions he had experienced as a player.

Dr. Omalu, who worked for former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, earned scorn from some NFL corners and national publicity with studies on the brain tissue of Mr. Webster and former Steelers lineman Terry Long and ex-Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters - the latter two who died of suicide.

Born in Nigeria, living in Pittsburgh at the time of his groundbreaking work and now based in California, Dr. Omalu has written two books, "Play Hard, Die Young: Football Dementia, Depression and Death" along with "A Historical Foundation of CTE in Football Players: Before the NFL, There Was CTE."

The movie is based on the October 2009 GQ article "Game Brain" by University of Pittsburgh writing professor Jeanne Marie Laskas. It teased the lengthy, detailed story this way:

"Let's say you run a multibillion-dollar football league. And let's say the scientific community - starting with one young pathologist in Pittsburgh and growing into a chorus of neuroscientists across the country - comes to you and says concussions are making your players crazy, crazy enough to kill themselves, and here, in these slices of brain tissue, is the proof. …

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