Archive for January 21st, 2011

‘Senator Udall Has Opened the Door a Crack … It’s Up to Senator Blumenthal to Kick It Wide Open’

Roundup of Coverage of Pittsburgh Steelers / NFL / WWE Doc Joseph Maroon’s Misstatements and Ethical Shortcuts on Concussion Research

On the eve of the National Football League conference championship game involving the Pittsburgh Steelers, here are links to all the posts here, dating back more than a year, on Dr. Joseph Maroon – the Steelers’ neurosurgeon, a leading NFL adviser on traumatic brain injury, and the medical director of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Maroon is most prominently in the news these days due to a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the promotional claims of Riddell, the official helmet supplier for the NFL. Riddell states that its latest helmet model, the Revolution, reduces concussions by 31 percent. The figure is derived from a 2006 article in the journal Neurosurgery. Two of the co-authors of the article are Maroon and Riddell’s chief engineer. The research underpinning the Neurosurgery article was conducted by a team including Maroon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and funded by a grant from NFL Charities.

To The New York Times, which broke the story of Senator Tom Udall’s call for an FTC probe of Riddell, Maroon has distanced himself from the company’s exploitation of the Pittsburgh study.

I have emailed Maroon numerous times over a period of months on the variety of issues in the stories below. He has not responded.

Irv Muchnick

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EXCLUSIVE: Linda McMahon’s WWE Medical Director Met With Chris Benoit Brain Experts in 2008

(12/14/09)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/exclusive-linda-mcmahons-wwe-medical-director-met-with-chris-benoit-brain-experts-in-2008/

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Umaga Autopsy Turns Focus to Linda McMahon’s WWE Cardio Program and Docs

(3/30/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/umaga-autopsy-turns-focus-to-linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-wwe-cardio-program-and-docs/

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NFL Explains: Maroon Still on Committee, Only Concussion ‘Leadership’ Has Changed

(7/7/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/nfl-explains-maroon-still-on-committee-only-concussion-leadership-has-changed/

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Treatment of WWE Performer Charlie Haas Is a Study of Linda McMahon’s Character

(8/18/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/treatment-of-wwe-performer-charlie-haas-is-a-study-of-linda-mcmahons-character/

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More on the 2008 Meeting of Linda McMahon’s WWE Medical Director at the West Virginia Brain Institute

(9/9/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/more-on-the-2008-meeting-of-linda-mcmahon%E2%80%99s-wwe-medical-director-at-the-west-virginia-brain-institute/

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Wrestling Journalist Meltzer: WWE Medical Director’s Quote Is ‘Mind-Boggling’

(10/14/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/wrestling-journalist-meltzer-wwe-medical-directors-quote-is-mind-boggling/

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WWE Medical Director ‘Dishonest,’ Say 76% in Wrestling Observer Reader Poll

(10/16/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/wwe-medical-director-dishonest-say-76-in-wrestling-observer-fan-poll/

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‘Concussion Issue Reaches Critical Mass in American Culture and Politics’ (full text)

(11/20/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/concussion-issue-reaches-critical-mass-in-american-culture-and-politics-full-text/

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Knocking Heads Together: WWE Is the Next Frontier of Sports Concussion Reform

(12/21/10)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/knocking-heads-together-wwe-is-the-next-frontier-of-sport-concussion-reform/

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Pitt Med Center Doctors’ Supplement Company and WWE Ties Skirt Ethics Policy

(1/4/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/pitt-med-center-doctors-supplement-company-and-wwe-ties-skirt-ethics-policy/

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Dr. Joseph Maroon’s Disturbing Pattern of Misstatements

(1/5/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/dr-joseph-maroons-disturbing-pattern-of-misstatements/

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Dear Senator Udall: Help Coordinate Concussion and Steroid Investigations

(1/5/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/dear-senator-udall-help-coordinate-concussion-and-steroid-investigations/

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Steelers’ Wheel: Pittsburgh Media Are Mum on the Connections of Pitt Med Center, Pittsburgh Steelers, and WWE Scandals

(1/7/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/steelers%E2%80%99-wheel-pittsburgh-media-are-mum-on-the-connections-of-pitt-med-center-pittsburgh-steelers-and-wwe-scandals/

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More Questions About WWE Medical Director Joseph Maroon

(1/12/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/more-questions-about-wwe-medical-director-joseph-maroon/

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Why Didn’t NFL and WWE’s Dr. Maroon Speak Up About the Riddell Helmet Advertising Claims?

(1/13/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/why-didn%E2%80%99t-nfl-and-wwe%E2%80%99s-dr-maroon-speak-up-about-the-riddell-helmet-advertising-claims/

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‘Joseph Maroon, Doctor for NFL and WWE, Has It Every Which Way on Concussions’ (full text from Beyond Chron)

(1/14/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/%E2%80%98joseph-maroon-doctor-for-nfl-and-wwe-has-it-every-which-way-on-concussions%E2%80%99-full-text-from-beyond-chron/

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NFL Bans Coaches From Relationships With Supplement Companies. But NFL and WWE Doctor Joseph Maroon? Ka-Ching!

(1/20/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/nfl-bans-coaches-from-relationships-with-supplement-companies-but-nfl-and-wwe-doctor-joseph-maroon-ka-ching/

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

(1/20/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/nfl-dr-maroon%E2%80%99s-supplement-work-ok-because-he%E2%80%99s-not-league-or-club-%E2%80%98employee%E2%80%99/

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ESPN’s Peter Keating Was First to Expose NFL and WWE Concussion Doc Joseph Maroon’s Conflicts of Interest

(1/21/11)

https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/espn%E2%80%99s-peter-keating-was-first-to-expose-nfl-and-wwe-concussion-doc-joseph-maroon%E2%80%99s-conflicts-of-interest/

ESPN’s Peter Keating Was First to Expose NFL and WWE Concussion Doc Joseph Maroon’s Conflicts of Interest

Previously, I have tipped my hat to the reporting on the concussion issue by Alan Schwarz of The New York Times. Another journalistic giant on this story has been Peter Keating of ESPN The Magazine. More than three years ago, Keating looked into the mutually back-scratching relationships of the National Football League, neurological researchers, and the entrepreneurs of Dr. Joseph Maroon’s Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing system and their Pittsburgh company, imPACT Applications.

See the Keating article “NFL concussions expert also sells equipment to league,” August 10, 2007, http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2967678.

This story is more focused on Maroon’s imPACT partner and co-founder, Dr. Mark Lovell, another University of Pittsburgh Medical Center-based NFL consultant. But it lays out the whole shady chain of events, including how Maroon and a third imPACT partner, Michael Collins (also from the Pitt team), glowingly peer-reviewed the oft-cited study, co-authored by Lovell, in the February 2006 issue of the journal Neurosurgery.

As someone who spent all of 2010 trying, without success, to elicit comment from Maroon or Pitt, I was struck by how Lovell never responded to questions or made himself available for an interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. A medical center spokeswoman gave Keating this lame quote: “These are very important issues that are too complicated to address in an edited 10-second sound-bite.”

Since the publication of Keating’s article, we all know a lot more:

  • Chris Nowinski’s Sports Legacy Institute has gotten off the ground.
  • WWE star Chris Benoit’s sensational double murder/suicide led to the examination of his brain tissue by Dr. Bennet Omalu and took to a new level the public’s understanding of Chronic Traumatic Encephelapothy.
  • Maroon became medical director for WWE. He has made a pattern of inaccurate and misleading public statements, and has enabled a significant company lie in ESPN’s coverage of the CTE findings for another dead wrestler, Andrew “Test” Martin.
  • Hearings of the House Judiciary Committee put a spotlight on the NFL’s inadequate and sometimes corrupt management of the concussion problem.
  • The Federal Trade Commission, spurred by Senator Tom Udall, has opened a probe of official NFL supplier Riddell’s helmet safety claims – based on league-funded research by Maroon and others at Pitt.

Senator Udall has opened the door a crack on a sordid tale of industrial death in the pro wrestling industry, and how the causes and costs resonate throughout the world of sports and American society.

In 2011, it will be up to Udall, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and others in the 112th Congress to kick that door wide open.

In the next post I will publish a rundown of this blog’s coverage of Dr. Joseph Maroon.

Irv Muchnick


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