The NFL Meets the Civil Rights Era in Feature Film on Players Brig Owens & Jerry Smith

Fandomodo Films and Confluential Films will produce a feature about one of football’s most epic friendships between African American player Brig Owens and closeted gay player Jerry Smith, both of the Washington Redskins; A true story that unfolds amid the turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s; Tommy Oliver, Joel Kinnaman and Jon Bernthal attached

Los Angeles, CA, Oct. 27, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fandomodo Films announced today the production of a feature film about NFL legends Brig Owens and Jerry Smith, two players who became stars despite prejudice and intolerance. Tommy Oliver (40 Years A Prisoner, The Perfect Guy, 1982) is producing with Anthony Kaan. Oliver is also penning the script based on a story by Brig Owens and Kevin Vance. Actors Joel Kinnaman (Hanna, Robocop, The Killing) and Jon Bernthal (Punisher, The Walking Dead) are attached as Executive Producers with Kinnaman playing Jerry Smith. Financing for the as-yet-untitled feature is through Fandomodo Films. 

Set at the height of the civil rights movement, the film chronicles the close bond between the two Washington Redskins players during a time of major societal upheaval. NFL owners were fighting the formation of the Players Association to maintain their grip over a culture of secrecy and oppression — all the against backdrop of growing violence against black communities, civil unrest against a war raging in Vietnam, and a Superbowl. Brig faced constant challenges and bigotry as a black man — pulling double duty as he practiced during the day and attended law school at night. Smith was secretly gay – a fact he kept hidden all his life. Through it all, the men formed an unwritten covenant to always be there for each other regardless of differences or obstacles.

“Before Colin Kaepernick, there was Brig Owens.  He stood up for the rights of players at a time when nobody else dared speak,” said Anthony Kaan, Fandomodo Films CEO. “He fought for justice on the field and off, and protected Jerry at a time when America was about to hear about the Stonewall riots for the first time.”

Brig Owens was a safety for the Washington Redskins after a distinguished college career and a season with the Dallas Cowboys. He went on to break many of his team’s records and was named to its Ring of Fame. After retirement he finished his law degree and became an executive director of the Players Association he helped to create.

“Injustice for one person is injustice for every person,” said retired NFL star Brig Owens. “I hope audiences will find our battles inspiring as we all come to grips with how much work is yet to be done to confront the prejudice that is still so deeply rooted in America.”

Jerry Smith passed away from AIDS in 1986, having never come out publicly that he was gay. 

As a tight end for the Washington Redskins he broke records and went to two Pro Bowls. He was well loved by his teammates despite keeping his private life a secret. 

Tommy Oliver of Confluential Films is the producer of the NAACP Image Award-nominated docu-series Black Love for OWN, now in its fourth season. He wrote, directed and produced the upcoming HBO documentary 40 Years a Prisoner, which tells the story of the 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical group MOVE and its aftermath — history that is alarmingly topical today. Oliver also produced the thriller The Perfect Guy, the drama 1982, which he also wrote and directed, and Kinyarwanda, a feature set during the Rwandan genocide which was chosen by Roger Ebert in his top ten films for 2013.

Kaan founded the boutique film and television production and financing company Fandomodo in 2017. Previously he was the co-founder of Relativity Digital Studios under the Relativity Media banner, leading development and production of RDS’s first slate of original programming for the mini-major. He represented some of the world’s most iconic brands including Coca-Cola and Hasbro while at CAA, during a golden era for brands when both American Idol (Coke) and Transformers (Hasbro) were first set up. 

About Fandomodo Films

Fandomodo is a boutique film & television production and financing company focused on telling stories that haven’t been told, and lifting up the voices of voiceless. More info at

About Confluential Films

Confluential Films is a production company led by Tommy & Codie Elaine Oliver with projects set up at HBO, Netflix, Sony, Lionsgate, OWN, and more. Upcoming projects include the HBO documentary 40 Years A Prisoner and The Perfect Find at Netflix. As a company, we are devoted to championing projects that are inclusive and celebrate our shared human experience and we’re deeply committed to authentic storytelling, where those who should be telling a given story, will be the only ones doing so on anything where we’re involved. More info at


The lives of NFL stars Brig Owens and Jerry Smith of the Washington Redskins are the subject of a feature film being produced by Fandomodo Films. Set against the turmoil of the '60s and '70s, the film depicts the friends fighting racism against Brigs, and the homophobic climate that Jerry feared as a closeted gay player. Tommy Oliver of Confluential Films and Anthony Kaan will produce. Joel Kinnaman will play Jerry Smith. Jon Bernthal is also attached. Fandomodo Films has announced the start of production of a feature film about the lives of NFL stars Brig Owens and Jerry Smith. Tommy Oliver and Anthony Kaan will produce the true story of two friends fighting racism and homophobia amid the turmoil of the '60s and '70s. Pictured: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Washington Redskins tight end Jerry Smith, Ethel Kennedy, and safety Brig Owens.

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