The principal funder of the new documentary film Head Games is Steve Devick, a billionaire music and technology entrepreneur, who co-invented and is marketing a sports sideline concussion tool called the King-Devick Test.
On the virtual eve of the first preview screening of the movie in Chicago – originally billed as a “red carpet premiere,” now called a “private sneak peek” – Devick is listed as an executive producer at the website, http://headgamesthefilm.com.
According to a knowledgeable source, Devick controls all rights to Head Games. The documentary is directed by Steve James, whose previous credits include the acclaimed Hoop Dreams. James had told me that the underwriters of his new project were anonymous.
Head Games is said to be inspired by the work of Sports Legacy Institute founder Chris Nowinski, who authored a 2006 book with the same title. Along with Dr. Robert Cantu, Nowinski co-directs the Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy at Boston University.
The new film’s trailer also celebrates the journalism of Alan Schwarz of The New York Times. In what I consider a serious blow to the possibility that Head Games might come to be regarded as an independent or comprehenive account of the football concussion crisis and debate, Schwarz not only is interviewed in the trailer, but also is listed as the associate producer. Schwarz told me he left the Times concussion beat last summer, but he has continued to cover the issue in its news pages – most recently reporting on the lawsuit against the National Football League by the family of Dave Duerson.
Among the other listed executive producers of Head Games is Anthony Athanas, a Boston restaurateur who is a friend of Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. Athanas and Kraft serve together on the executive council of the Catholic Schools Foundation.
Next posts in this series will examine Steve Devick and his King-Devick Test – those in academia and high political circles who support it, and those who are skeptical that it holds the promise of alleviating the traumatic brain injury problem in football.
A former optometrist, Devick made his fortune developing Platinum Entertainment, a record label, which became a pioneer of digital music transmission systems. He is a trustee of Columbia College Chicago, whose faculty member Bruce Sheridan produced Head Games.
As this series proceeds, I’ll also continue to reassess the body of Alan Schwarz’s 2007-11 Times work in light of this new information.