Archive for January 20th, 2011

NFL: Dr. Maroon’s Supplement Work OK Because He’s Not League or Club ‘Employee’

Greg Aiello, the National Football League’s conscientious media liaison, got back to me quickly in response to my post earlier today, “NFL Bans Coaches From Relationships With Supplement Companies. But NFL and WWE Doctor Maroon? Ka-Ching!”,

Aiello said: “The league’s supplement endorsement policy applies only to league and club employees. If any club or person affiliated with a club engages in or promotes conduct that violates our policy on performance-enhancing substances, all involved would be held accountable.”

The language here recalls that of Commissioner Roger Goodell at the October 2009 hearings of the House Judiciary Committee. Pressed about questionable denials of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy research issued by the NFL concussion policy committee, Goodell insisted that the committee doctor-members – Maroon among them – are not league employees. But they are certainly league consultants who draw fees and ancillary commercial benefits. The smarter members of the Judiciary Committee, including Linda Sanchez of California and Anthony Weiner of New York, took note of the league experts’ absence of independence and transparency.

I’m not saying that the supplements endorsed by Dr. Maroon contain substances listed as performance-enhancing.  But the principle that came through at the Judiciary Committee hearings applies: he is a walking infomercial, not someone whose word on player safety and on the NFL’s vigilance on its behalf earns the benefit of the doubt.

Irv Muchnick

NFL Bans Coaches From Relationships With Supplement Companies. But NFL and WWE Doctor Joseph Maroon? Ka-Ching! is reporting that the National Football League ordered new Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson to sever his ties with a supplement company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids (S.W.A.T.S), whose product IGF-1 contains a banned substance.

See Eric Adelson’s story at

“We have a long-standing policy that prohibits coaches from any relationship with a supplement company,” said Brian McCarthy, the NFL’s director of corporate communications.

Curiously, no such policy applies to team or league physicians, such as Dr. Joseph Maroon, a long-time neurologist for the Pittsburgh Steelers and member of the NFL concussion policy committee. I have been reporting that Maroon endorses a supplement called Vindure, which is based on the red-grape abstract resveratrol, and is an owner of the company that licensed Harvard Medical School research to Vindure’s producer, Vinomis Labs.

So far as I know, Vindure contains no substances banned by the league. But Vinomis Labs is a supplement company.

In addition – and as I am reporting here for the first time – Dr. Maroon endorses another supplement called Sports Brain Guard, described as a “daily tri-delivery bioactive protection program” for concussed athletes, from Irvine, California-based Newport Nutritionals. See Maroon’s piece of the hype at

Maroon also is medical director of World Wrestling Entertainment. Dr. Bryan Donohue, WWE’s consulting cardiologist, is an owner of Vinomis Labs. Both Maroon and Donohue are at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, whose officials refuse to comment on whether Vinomis Labs and other outside business interests are covered by a recently revised and much-publicized ethics policy.

When I asked NFL spokesman Greg Aiello if the league had a parallel ethics policy for team physicians, he said they were bound only by the codes of their professional medical societies. I will forward this post to Aiello and invite comment on why the NFL bans its coaches but not its doctors from relationships with supplement companies.

WWE has not commented on whether it has an NFL-modeled or any other conflict-of-interest policy for its consulting doctors.

This is all of particular relevance because the Federal Trade Commission, on the request of Senator Tom Udall, just opened an investigation of the promotional claims of the NFL’s official helmet supplier, Riddell. Those claims are based on NFL Charities-funded research conducted by Maroon.

Irv Muchnick

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January 2011