PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The late Hall Famer center Mike Webster anchored the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line in the glory days of the 1970s.
Academy Award nominee Will Smith is box office gold.
What do the two have in common?
Smith may be coming to Pittsburgh to play the role of Dr. Bennett Omalu, a Pittsburgh medical examiner whose autopsy of Webster found evidence of dementia caused by football concussions.
“We always knew Dad had something wrong with him,” says Iron Mike’s son, Garrett Webster, who works with the non-profit Brain Injury Research Institute. He sees the movie as a positive.
“The fact that they’re doing that now, and Dad can be part of that is an honor to us,” he said. “Hopefully, that attitude of how dad was treated by the city and how they really helped him out, and to this day embrace him and have a high opinion of my Dad, that’s very important to us, too. And we’re happy about that.”
Jessica Conner, of the Pittsburgh Film Office, says state tax credits have been crucial in luring film companies to Pittsburgh.
“We hope that over the years they will increase the amount,” she says, “because the more money in the tax credit means more work for Pennsylvanians.”
Movie crews have brought more than $100 million into Pittsburgh in each of the last four years. And this coming year promises to be the best one yet. But how do they come up with those figures?
“We track hotel nights, car rentals, what they spend on crew, what they spent buying supplies for construction,” Conner explains. “So we go and we get dollar for dollar what they spent.”
Meanwhile, Webster’s son hopes the film will help us understand the impact of sports-related injuries.
“If this movie and my dad’s story helps, that’s better than Super Bowls,” he adds. “That’s better than the Hall of Fame, those kinds of things. You know, if you can help people not suffer any more, not go through pain, I don’t think really you can accomplish any more than that in your life.”