Look out fairy tales, young adult novels and toys — it looks like the hot new material around town is football head injury dramas. Wait, what? Well, it certainly seems that way with reports hitting last week that Ridley Scott was starting development on a drama out the health crisis in the sport. But considering that project might not even get made, given Scott’s plethora of things to choose from at any moment, it’s not a shock another movie is going to tackle the subject first.
Deadline reports that Isaiah Washington, coming off the underrated Beltway Sniper drama “Blue Caprice” (seriously, track it down, it’s gripping stuff), will star in an untitled movie about concussions and head injuries in football. The film is from writer/director Matthew A. Cherry who knows his way around the gridiron, not only as a former wide receiver, but as also having helmed the football drama “The Last Fall” previously. Washington will executive produce the indie flick and play “a retired professional football player suffering from a degenerative brain disease who attempts to reconnect with his estranged son to warn him about returning to play a game too soon after sustaining a concussion.”
So why are so many filmmakers hot on what seems like a niche health issue? Well, it’s something that has become a controversy within the NFL, with the industry trying to suppress medical information and protect a billion dollar sport from lawsuits or worse. “What’s the level of acceptable risk? What’s the level of reasonable reform?” broadcaster Bob Costas asks in the very strong documentary “Head Games” (which you should see), a question that gets to the heart of what players and official are dealing with. In the right hands this material could be “The Insider” of football movies, though this seems to be going for a more direction emotional response.
Production is aiming to start next spring on this, and it’ll be interesting to see how those around the sport will respond. Here’s the trailer for Cherry’s previous film.