Alex Marvez, the senior pro football writer for FoxSports.com — who also writes a weekly syndicated pro wrestling column for Scripps-Howard News Service — yesterday updated the National Football League’s work on preventing concussions. As I’ll explain, the development also bears down indirectly on the NFL’s illegitimate stepbrother in recreational violence, World Wrestling Entertainment, whose face in electoral politics is Linda McMahon, the likely Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut.
Dr. Hunt Batjer, the new co-chair of the NFL head/neck/spine committee, told The New York Times that the league sought “a complete severance from all prior relationships with that committee.”
This statement is a clear repudiation of the work of, among others, Dr. Joseph Maroon, a team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers who has been an NFL voice on the concussion issue, and who in 2008 also became medical director for World Wrestling Entertainment. Batjer’s new NFL co-chair, Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, appeared on Marvez’s Sirirus satellite radio show, and Marvez wrote that the two doctors are “emphasizing a split from past research that has come under heavy fire from critics for being inaccurate, incomplete and/or ethically compromised.”
On this blog, I have been reporting extensively on the possible wide-ranging ethical compromises of the WWE medical team, especially the several members who, like Maroon, are based at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Maroon’s UPMC colleague and WWE’s cardiologist, Dr. Bryan Donohue, co-founded an unregulated supplement company (whose product Maroon himself also endorses); meanwhile, across-the-board drug user and wrestler Eddie “Umaga” Fatu had an enlarged heart when he died in December 2009, six months after leaving WWE.
And Maroon himself participated in WWE’s lie to ESPN about access to the research on Chris Benoit’s damaged brain following his June 2007 double murder/suicide. Maroon had been right there at a presentation of the Benoit findings by doctors from the brain research institute at West Virginia University.
Three months ago Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, told me that Maroon was still on the league’s concussion committee. Has that changed?
The questions deepen about the efficacy and good faith of the WWE “Wellness Policy” developed under Senate candidate Linda McMahon, the company’s former CEO. Will that change?