More Questions About WWE Medical Director Joseph Maroon

In response to my article yesterday at Beyond Chron, “Joseph Maroon, Doctor for NFL and WWE, Has It Every Which Way on Concussions,” http://www.beyondchron.org/articles/Joseph_Maroon_Doctor_for_NFL_and_WWE_Has_It_Every_Which_Way_on_Concussions_8803.html, Mark Picot of Boston submitted a letter to the editor. I reproduce it here:

Dr. Joseph Maroon is the same guy who dismissed a jaw correcting device, currently used in the NFL, that helps protect the medial temporal lobe area, where CTE is found. Boxers who develop CTE are known to have a Glass jaw. An NFL presentation in NY was ignored in 07 and no mandate or effective research has been initiated by the NFL. Yet the Pentagon and the Army are moving forward to investigate this means of prevention, Maroon still asks, just how do you get a concussion from a blow to the jaw?

It turns out that Mark Picot is executive vice president of the manufacturer of a product called the Maher Mouth Guard. In a phone conversation today, Picot told me that this appliance is used by the New England Patriots, who historically rank at or near the bottom of the annual lists of numbers of concussions in the National Football League.

I am not endorsing Picot’s positions on everything, but it is definitely an area worth exploring. I will be reporting back on this blog as I do that.

Picot’s assertions also raise the possibility that Dr. Maroon – whose uncomfortably broad celebrity profile and series of misleading public statements I have already documented – has been involved for many years in a larger story of captive-scientific-industrial research skewed toward particular products, such as Riddell helmets and “imPACT” concussion management. Those products, in turn, obviously set standards at the collegiate and high school levels because of the NFL’s television exposure and market power. They also, in turn, could give the public both a false sense of security and an exaggerated narrative of the league’s proactivity from the moment of first awareness of the enormity of the concussion problem in its sport. More on all these aspects as my investigation proceeds.

I find it very telling that the NFL retained Maroon on its concussion policy committee after the October 2009 hearings of the House Judiciary Committee that sent the chairmen of that committee into exile. For those of us interested in the story of Chris Benoit and pro wrestling’s “cocktail of death,” it is perhaps equally telling that Maroon would be the doctor Vince McMahon chose in 2008 to be World Wrestling Entertainment’s medical director.

These are dimensions Senator Tom Udall should explore as he asks the Federal Trade Commission to study the advertising claims of Maroon-researched Riddell helmets.

Irv Muchnick

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