The recent spike of public interest in traumatic brain injury is becoming more evident than ever as it makes its way into pop culture. First, Ridley Scott announced he was beginning to work on a feature length film focused on brain injuries in football, and Blue Caprice star Isaiah Washington is preparing to star in a smaller independent movie with writer/director Matthew A. Cherry, a former NFL wide receiver. Now, Deadline reports Parkes/MacDonald Productions have won the screen rights to the book League of Denial: NFL, Concussions And The Battle For Truth.
The book made a huge splash a few months ago when it was released on the same day as a Frontline special based on the book’s findings aired on PBS. Both the book and documentary were created by ESPN reports Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, who spent years uncovering what they believe to be decades of deceitful behavior within the NFL in order to keep players and the general public unaware of the risks of repeated brain injuries.
League of Denial put much of its focus on famed Pittsburgh Steelers player Mike Webster, known as one of the toughest players to ever play in the professional league. Later in his life, Webster began to experience all of the tell-tale signs of severe brain damage before succumbing to a heart attack at age 50. After his death, Webster underwent an autopsy where he was found to have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disorder associated with memory loss, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and numerous other severe physical and mental problems.
It is unclear exactly how League of Denial will be making its way to the screen, as a partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation allowed the production company to secure the rights without a studio in line to begin production. Parkes/MacDonald Productions partners Walker Parkes and Laurie MacDonald hope to begin meeting with writers and filmmakers to determine whether the project is more suited as a pay cable special feature or a full-length theatrical release.
Parkes/MacDonald began its partnership with Image Nation in 2009, and they have already received acclaim for their first release I Am Malala, a feature documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani woman who received the UN human rights prize for her acts in promoting education for girls in her country, which ultimately led to an aassassinationattempt by the Taliban. Since then she has been nominated for the Nobel Peice Prize and has toured the world speaking out for her cause.
No matter how the project ends up being seen, film projects like it and Ridley Scott’s project are undoubtedly poised to reach a portion of the public which has so far been unphased by the research and journalistic efforts to increase awareness of the dangers of repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries.