Government football helmet investigations are in the air: the Federal Trade Commission is probing promotional safety claims by the Riddell manufacturer, at the behest of Senator Tom Udall, who also introduced a bill to codify and improve safety standards.
I argue that helmet investigations, per se, are meaningless without folding them into the entire context of the national sports concussion crisis. This includes the chronology of what the National Football League knew about chronic traumatic encephalopathy and when it knew it. And it includes examining the range of commercial products that have been pushed at the amateur level through NFL connections and NFL-funded research.
The useful starting point for Udall and the feds is the Riddell-friendly hype published in the academic journal Neurosurgery and co-authored by Dr. Joseph Maroon of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – a team doctor for the Pittsburgh Steelers and concussion expert for the NFL, who also is listed by World Wrestling Entertainment as its “medical director.”
A meaningful investigation of Riddell has to move on to cover other products with which Maroon is even more closely associated, and in some cases enjoys an equity business interest.
With that mission, this blog begins publishing a new series on the popular “ImPACT” concussion management software, which is marketed to the NFL and many professional and amateur sports leagues through a company whose owners include Maroon and UPMC colleagues.
First up, later today, will be a piece headlined “Subpoena Cena: Does WWE-NFL Doc Joseph Maroon’s ImPACT Software Manage Concussions – Or Merely ‘Manage’ ‘Concussions’?”
Before reading it, you are invited to review stories from our archive whose links are listed below. These are matters of concern not only for Senator Udall but also for one of his bill’s co-sponsors, Senator Richard Blumenthal, who owes his freshman seat to his 2010 election win over Linda McMahon, the former CEO of Connecticut-based WWE.
- “Roundup of Coverage of Pittsburgh Steelers / NFL / WWE Doc Joseph Maroon’s Misstatements and Ethical Shortcuts on Concussion Research,” January 21, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/roundup-of-coverage-of-pittsburgh-steelers-nfl-wwe-doc-joseph-maroon%E2%80%99s-misstatements-and-ethical-shortcuts-on-concussion-research/
- “Sports Concussion Scandal Ground Zero: NFL and WWE Doc Joseph Maroon’s Hype Article in Neurosurgery on Riddell Football Helmets,” January 23, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/sports-concussion-scandal-ground-zero-nfl-and-wwe-doc-joseph-maroon%E2%80%99s-hype-article-in-%E2%80%98neurosurgery%E2%80%99-on-riddell-football-helmets/
- “Timeline of Dr. Joseph Maroon’s Work As WWE Medical Director,” January 24, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/timeline-of-dr-joseph-maroon%E2%80%99s-work-as-wwe-medical-director/
- “Pittsburgh Steelers Physician Joseph Maroon Key Figure in Sports Concussion Probe,” January 31, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/pittsburgh-steelers-physician-joseph-maroon-key-figure-in-sports-concussion-probe/
- “Helmet to Helmet: FTC’s Investigation Could be the Super Bowl for Corrupt NFL Doctors and the National Concussion Crisis,” February 11, https://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/helmet-to-helmet-ftc%E2%80%99s-investigation-could-be-the-super-bowl-for-corrupt-nfl-doctors-and-the-national-concussion-crisis-full-text-from-beyond-chron/