National Football League training camps are shuttered this month, pending resolution of the owners’ lockout of players. But for clinicians at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who have cushy consultancies not just with the NFL’s Steelers but also with other sports and entertainment entities, there are no idle hands.
At World Wrestling Entertainment – home of a performer early-death rate that makes pro football look like a counselor gig at a boys’ club – UPMC’s Dr. Joseph Maroon still holds down the fort as medical director, a post he has held since 2008. He is joined on the WWE medical team, the company website continues to confirm, by his colleague Dr. Mark Lovell. Both Maroon and Lovell are founders and partners of the for-profit ImPACT concussion management system, whose marketing inroads have been so helped along by the new “concussion awareness” – even though many intelligent observers question whether neurocognitive testing software is anything more than a PR band-aid for the sports brain-trauma pandemic.
In addition to practicing dubiously rigorous medicine for WWE, Maroon plays the team doctor in grunt-and-groan storylines. Twice in the last year-plus, the company’s No. 1 star, John Cena, has used his Twitter feed to invoke his post-beatdown ImPACT tests as part of concussion “angles.” Much more questionable are WWE practices when the head injuries are indisputably real. Recently, Randy Orton was knocked unconscious in a choreography mishap at a show in Spain. Orton said this was his sixth known concussion. ImPACT “testing” nonetheless cleared Orton to work the main event of a pay-per-view event exactly seven days later.
To date, no mainstream journalist has picked up on this blog’s background of Maroon’s WWE work. Worse, no one has examined why Maroon survives at all as a front-and-center NFL concussion spokesman, after his years of involvement in tainted research downplaying evidence of chronic traumatic encephelopathy. In January, The New Yorker quoted Maroon in a major article – and specifically quoted him extolling the reporting of The New York Times’ Alan Schwarz. The Times, for its part, has not gotten around to examining the controversy over ImPACT. (The Chicago Tribune has done so, however.)
And never mind Maroon’s icky relationship with WWE. That’s just the circus, you know; it doesn’t count. Tell that to the voters of Connecticut, who next year may very well be asked to assess the second “self-funded” U.S. Senate candidacy of WWE co-founder Linda (Mrs. Vince) McMahon.
For the edification of new readers, I have pasted below links to some of my reports on the NFL/UPMC/WWE/ImPACT/ Dr. Joseph Maroon nexus.