by Irvin Muchnick
The 2017 National Football League season kicks off, and interest among non-hard cores is trending down. Awareness of this sport’s lethality, from cradle to grave, is trending up.
That is why I have selected a favorite recent marker of a story whose end point, as I say repeatedly, is clear but whose tipping point will become obvious only in history. (To the current sideshow question of whether the brain of Tom Brady himself already has been turned into scrambled eggs, the answer is, “Yes … No … Maybe …. Probably!”)
Our opening-day marker involves one of Concussion Inc.’s classic punching bags, Dr. Joseph Maroon. To refresh everyone’s memory, Maroon is an esteemed neurosurgeon in Pittsburgh, a team physician for the Pittsburgh Steelers, a member of the NFL advisory board on traumatic brain injury, and a profiteer of the widely marketed ImPACT Concussion Management System, a piece of quackery that came out of National Institutes of Health-subsidized research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Maroon also is the medical director of WWE, from where this story comes, courtesy of Pop Culture Media (http://popculture.com/wwe/2017/09/04/baron-corbin-new-information-regarding-punishment-wwe/).
Quoting wrestling media, the article tells of the at least momentary downsizing by management of WWE’s Baron Corbin after Corbin got into a persistent debate regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy at a meeting of Maroon and the entire roster of wrestlers. The piece documents the somewhat cryptic treatment of this development by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Insider and the more specific and pointed coverage by PW Insider.
Checking with my own contacts in this industry, which is governed by the code of omerta, I believer the stronger PW Insider account is accurate. Inside wrestling, this is not of great significance, since Corbin’s rescinded promotional intensity or “push”could be restored at any moment, and wrestlers’ pushes and non-pushes are always turning on a dime based on numerous factors, often whimsical and closely held by WWE boss Vince McMahon (husband of Donald Trump’s head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon).
What this episode does emphatically enable, at the onset of NFL 2017, is another opportunity to share with readers new and old Concussion Inc.’s coverage of Dr. Joseph Maroon. He was a bad guy in the 2015 film Concussion, about the work of pioneering CTE researcher Dr. Bennet Omalu. But lately I’ve eased up on Maroon and focused more on another cheesily rendered film figure: Omalu’s pal Dr. Julian Bailes, who was portrayed by Alec Baldwin. While masquerading as a serious CTE advocate, Bailes, as medical director of Pop Warner Football, is in fact a truther of climate change denial magnitude — lying in public statements that there have been “no” deaths in youth football for a generation.
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Published November 26th, 2016