WWE News SPECIAL REPORT: Update on concussions in pro wrestling - WWE's Wellness Policy response, Vince McMahon odd quote
Dec 29, 2008 - 2:40:33 PM
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By James Caldwell, PWTorch columnist
If anyone watched a full NFL game yesterday during the exciting Race to the Playoffs, there was probably a chance of seeing someone knocked out of a game with a head injury. It's simply the nature of football these days.
In Pittsburgh, star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out with a serious concussion. Innocuous to concussions, the only concern from the media and fans seems to be whether he'll be ready for the playoffs in two weeks, not the severity of the injury.
On the other hand, near the conclusion of the Houston Texans vs. Chicago Bears game that I was watching, two players from both teams knocked heads near the goal line. The camera zoomed in on Bears RB Adrian Peterson, who appeared to be back home tucked in bed with his eyes glazed over with that "faraway look" written all over his face.
Nothing to see here. Let's talk more about the next play, not whether Peterson was okay or if the Texans player, who remained down for the count and needed trainers to help him off the field, was able to gather himself for the post-game meal.
Concussions are serious business, but aren't being dealt with when the most number of viewers are tuned in. A study on the effects of concussions on former NFL players is currently being conducted, but won't be ready until 2010, according to ESPN.
The league has previously disputed any link between concussions and dementia, which former WWE wrestler Christopher Nowinski has clearly pointed to in his studies with the Sports Legacy Institute.
In a move that went largely under the radar, WWE added a concussion-testing policy to its Wellness Policy on October 24, a full 16 months after Chris Benoit's murder-suicide was partially believed to be caused by post-concussion syndrome.
The policy addendum, which is interestingly titled "ImPACT Testing," is designed for new-hire WWE wrestlers to establish a baseline testing level. As part of the regular health and cardiovascular aspects of the Wellness Policy, current wrestlers are also being monitored to ensure they are safe to perform in the ring.
The addendum reads: "...all WWE talent undergo tests of brain function, including memory, processing speed, and reaction time. An initial analysis is conducted for new WWE talent to gather baseline results before they participate in any in-ring activity for WWE, and then thereafter as circumstances warrant if head trauma is suspected."
WWE claims they are using the same concussion management program employed by NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, and many colleges and universities. It appears to be a serious endeavor, yet we're still seeing chair shots to the head and upper back region on TV.
Chair shots to the head certainly are not occurring at the frequency of ten years ago, but any chair shot to the head or blunt force with a weapon to the head should be banned in pre-match planning and punishable for setting a poor precedent for the rest of the locker room, especially by veterans.
However, a recent comment from Vince McMahon in an Australian news outlet lends credence to the idea that WWE's head man isn't taking this very seriously and possibly needed his arm twisted to even consider a concussion-testing policy be added to the Wellness Policy.
"There have been times where I was talking complete Greek and I wouldn't realize it," McMahon said in The Australian. "All you can do is laugh. Post-concussion syndrome they call it."
It perhaps is funny at the time when a person is knocked into next week and making zero sense, as if they're intoxicated at the bar after a show. McMahon has taken his share of chair shots to the head during his non-wrestling career, but it's a serious matter.
The NFL doesn't seem too eager to change the money-making violence prominent in its sport and replayed daily on ESPN, but we'll see if the NFL changes its tune in 2010. WWE is at least taking a step in the right direction that will perhaps save some lives and at least improve the health of WWE wrestlers for years to come.
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