Archive for February 7th, 2011

American Lawyer Magazine on Irvin ‘The Muckraker’ Muchnick vs. Jerry ‘The Litigator’ McDevitt

The February issue of American Lawyer magazine has an amusing piece in its front-of-the-book section, Bar Talk, about my most recent correspondence (in December) with World Wrestling Entertainment attorney Jerry McDevitt.

The elaborately produced box, written by magazine staffer Victor Li, does not seem to be available online even to subscribers. I have a request in for permission to post the story here. In the absence of such permission, let me describe and quote from it.

The article is headlined “And in This Corner … A lawyer and his nemesis jump back in the ring,” and is built around tale-of-the-tape type graphics. My decapitated mug is photoshopped onto a cartoon muscleman obviously modeled after the Ultimate Warrior; I’m even given his face paint and bicep bands. McDevitt’s own gray pompadour contrasts with my high hairline, and his fantasy hunk is stuffed into a wrestling singlet with a WWE championship belt.

After a preamble, the piece is built around dueling quotes from McDevitt and me: “… ON STEROIDS,” “…ON WRESTLER HEALTH,” “… ON EMPLOYMENT LAW,” “… ON CHRIS BENOIT,” and finally “… ON EACH OTHER,” which I quote in full:

He’s a great lawyer,” Muchnick tells Bar Talk. “If he wants to sue me, I look forward to it. After all, the truth is always a defense.”

He’s a vicious man,” McDevitt tells Bar Talk. He declined to say whether he has any plans to sue Muchnick.


Irv Muchnick

NOCSAE Head: ‘Not in Position to Speak on Behalf of the FTC’ on Helmet Safety Investigation

Michael Oliver, executive director and general counsel of the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) responded to my previous post criticizing the organization for failing to publicize the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation of the safety claims of football helmet manufacturers.

Oliver was gracious but not persuasive. “In this situation, we certainly don’t feel as though we are in position to speak on behalf of the FTC,” he emailed. “Our focus in this outreach directed to athletes and parents was to encourage them to seek information that goes beyond marketing and promotional materials. We want to make sure they are aware of practical resources they can access to get necessary information. That is a part of our role to enhance the safety of athletes.”

I wrote back, in part, “I am not urging you to speak ‘on behalf of the FTC.’ Rather, I am exhorting you to speak ABOUT what the FTC is doing, since that is a news development central to NOCSAE’s mission.”

Irv Muchnick

Why Is Athletic Equipment Standards Group Talking in Code About FTC Investigation of NFL’s Riddell Helmets?

The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) issued a press release on the eve of the Super Bowl, urging “athletes and parents to get the facts about helmets and concussion protection.”


But there’s something big missing in NOCSAE’s alert: it doesn’t mention the Federal Trade Commission investigation of official National Football League supplier Riddell that was launched last month at the behest of Senator Tom Udall.

In this respect, NOCSAE mirrors The New York Times and mainstream media in talking in code about the national concussion crisis. The Times broke the story of the FTC probe last month but I do not believe has made a single reference to it since then.

No outlet, except for this blog, has begun to explore the deeper meaning of a federal investigation based on claims stemming from clinical research funded by industry and the NFL, which also served the for-profit motives of NFL doctors and consultants.

Communicators for news organizations and public-interest groups need to do some more communicatin’.


Irv Muchnick



“FTC Investigation Could Be the Super Bowl for Corrupt NFL Doctors and the National Concussion Crisis … today at Beyond Chron,”

“Super Bowl Concussion Hype Week, Part 2: What’s the Deal With the NFL and the Journal Neurosurgery?”,

“Pittsburgh Steelers Physician Joseph Maroon Key Figure in Sports Concussion Probe,”


‘FTC Investigation Could Be the Super Bowl for Corrupt NFL Doctors and the National Concussion Crisis’ … today at Beyond Chron

With the Super Bowl out of the way, the National Football League is fraught with the unfinished business of a new collective bargaining agreement between owners and players. Far less attention has been given to a threat that may be even bigger: the Federal Trade Commission’s announced probe of the exaggerated safety claims of football helmet manufacturers.

All too often, government investigations of industry culminate in bland consent decrees whereby the corporations alleged to have offended standards promise to abandon particular claims without admitting they did anything wrong. If that becomes the end result of the FTC examination of Riddell, the official helmet supplier for the NFL, and of Riddell’s chief competitor Schutt Sports, then an important opportunity will have been missed to shine light on what is now the 17-year-old story of the NFL’s controversial management of the concussion issue.

There’s plenty to suggest that the FTC, at the urging of Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, intends to go beyond the advertising and YouTube promo videos of Riddell and Schutt, and follow the story to its source: the process and substance of the clinical research over the last two decades that has slowed and misled the public in understanding the causes and magnitude of systematic brain trauma in football. If the feds pursue that trail, they will unravel the enmeshment of corrupt NFL doctors with a prominent medical institution and a prominent journal that have skewed studies and publications in ways favorable to a league facing potentially cataclysmic legal exposure.


Irv’s Tweets

February 2011