Monday, July 25, 2011

‘Concussion Inc. ... Author Irvin Muchnick’

This "mirror" blog is no longer being maintained. The hub of my web presence, including my blog, is now the website "Concussion Inc. ... Author Irvin Muchnick":

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

WWE Drug Testing Again Reveals Its Transparent Opacity

[posted 7/18/11 at http://concussion]

World Wrestling Entertainment’s Luis Ignascio Urive Alvride, the masked Mexican who performs as “Sin Cara” and was known in his native country as “Mistico,” has been suspended by WWE for flunking a drug test.

David Bixenspan of Cageside Seats cites sources reporting that the drug was steroids and adding that the test results were known as early as June 20:

After the 2007 Signature Pharmacy debacle, WWE amended its “Wellness Policy” and began announcing disciplinary actions for violations. But they waited with Sin Cara for weeks, first using him on last night’s pay-per-view show to get him written out of the storyline with an “injury.” Stop the presses.

Irv Muchnick

Monday, July 18, 2011

‘NFL’s “Legacy Fund” For Disabled Retirees Just a Down Payment on National Concussion Costs’ ... today at Beyond Chron

[originally posted 7/18/11 at]

According to reliable reports, National Football League owners and players are very close to a deal that will save the 2011 season. One of the last hang-ups of a lockout-averting agreement is a provision being referred to as the “Legacy Fund” – a negotiated siphoning off of a portion of the NFL’s $9 billion in annual revenues to cover more fully the disability claims of retired players who suffer from crippling orthopedic injuries or brain trauma. Let’s focus on the latter. The category going by the useful shorthand “concussions” not only shortens quantity and maims quality of life, but also defines the problem in terms over and above the interests of management, players, and even professional retirees.

Bully for Hall of Famer Carl Eller and the other named plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit if they have been able to gain a seat at the collective-bargaining table alongside the NFL and the temporarily decertified NFL Players Association – or at least created pressure for more comprehensive benefits to offset the nearly bottomless pit of sob stories that are the fallout of mass entertainment.

But I also say: Who’s speaking for the rest of us? These include kids who should not have been playing tackle football at all in peewee and high school prog before their informed consent could be secured and their risks of lifelong disability from concussions and repetitive subconcussive head blows could be properly processed.

On the larger canvas, they also include a society that, when all is said is done, will have manifested lower academic achievement and workforce productivity, and increased violent crime, all as a consequence of America’s brilliantly marketed football obsession.


Introducing ‘Concussion Inc. ... Author Irvin Muchnick’

What They’re Saying About Irvin Muchnick

What They’re Saying About Irvin Muchnick

[originally posted 7/15/11 at]

On WRESTLING BABYLON: Piledriving Tales of Drugs, Sex, Death., and Scandal (2007):

“Irv Muchnick knows wrestling likes Anna Wintour knows fashion.”

Frank Deford

author, Sports Illustrated writer, National Public Radio commentator

“The wrestling version of ALICE IN WONDERLAND: you fall into the hole and you discover a world you never dreamed of. But Muchnick didn’t dream this stuff up, he dug it up.”

Scott Ostler

columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

“In a world of timid, formulaic scrivenings on sports and entertainment and sports entertainment, WRESTLING BABYLON is a sock on the jaw.”

Bert Randolph Sugar

boxing historian and author


On CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death (2009):

“Muchnick is still throwing facts into the fire, still connecting the dots between the sacred cows of respectable society and the WrestleWorld they collude with.”

Phil Mushnick

columnist, New York Post

“Should be called ZEN AND THE ART OF SCANDAL MAINTENANCE. An instant cult classic.”

Larry Matysik

wrestling promoter and author


On Irv Muchnick’s investigations of sports concussions:

“[You characterize] the Times coverage as ‘carefully adumbrated’ — which, I’m assuming for now that you know, means presented somewhat incompletely in an effort to be vague or misleading. As far as I know your concern with the coverage stems only from your Maroon-connection-to-Riddell-study issue. Even if that were an issue, which I know it is not for reasons of which you are totally unaware, you have some nerve casting the entire work that way.”

Alan Schwarz

reporter, The New York Times, May 27, 2011, email

“the NYT has led that story for three years. what are you talking about?”

George Vecsey

columnist, The New York Times, June 17, 2011, email



“He’s a vicious man.”

WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, The American Lawyer, February 2011

Introducing ‘Concussion Inc. ... Author Irvin Muchnick’

[originally posted 7/15/11 at]

Welcome to the new look of my blog, which has been renamed “Concussion Inc.” and transformed into the hub of my web presence. You can get here via either or the old address,

Concussion Inc. continues to archive posts related to my previous books, WRESTLING BABYLON and CHRIS & NANCY. As has been the case for a while, the reporting here is now directed more toward my next book, with familiar common themes.

General theme: The world of pro wrestling and the world at large are considerably more alike than different. This is evident even, and perhaps especially, in the blood sport of politics. (Think of the scene in The Godfather in which the Diane Keaton character, upon noticing pillars of the community mingling socially with Mafiosi, expresses revulsion. The Al Pacino character says back to her, “Now who’s being na├»ve?”)

Specific theme: The nearly $10-billion-a-year global pro football industry is being shaken all the way down to its three-point stance by awareness that the sport at all levels involves a previously covered up toll of long-term brain trauma. This has turned into a national public health crisis, as well as a hiccup for the National Football League, one of American culture’s iconic brands. What you have is an athletic echo of the tobacco industry scandal – and, once more, one with a wrestling provenance. The sensational 2007 double murder/suicide of World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit helped put chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on the map. WWE’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, is a central figure in the long contemporary history of CTE through his ties with the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and through his development and marketing of the most popular product in sports-medicine concussion management.

Investigative journalism is not “peer-reviewed scientific literature.” It is a contact sport. My version of it favors transparent and interactive relationships with readers and sources. I also recognize that back stories and their interpretation are organic; I strive for what is, at best, the second d of history. Finally, readers will find that I am far more willing than conventional sportswriters to steer the narrative toward personalities, institutions, and questions with which others are disinclined to wrestle (so to speak).

I invite you all along for the ride.

Irv Muchnick


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Timeline of Eller Lawsuit and NFL Lockout Developments

Retired players’ activist Dave Pear’s blog has an informative timeline of the Carl Eller lawsuit and efforts to get a seat at the table in the National Fo League lockout talks:

Incidentally, to correct what this blog stated earlier, Irv Cross, the former defensive back and CBS commentator, is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, in 2009, the Hall awarded Cross the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award to honor his career in television.

Irv Muchnick

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Columnist: NFL Retired Players’ Negotiations the ’800-Pound Gorilla’ of Lockout

San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Gwen Knapp today has a good analysis of the pro football labor talks headlined “For NFL, retiree care is the tougher battle.” (Chronicle columnist content is kept offline for non-subscribers for 48 hours, so no link.)

Knapp mildly disparages the Carl Eller group’s lawsuit as a piece of public relations leverage. This is an unfortunate, though standard, trope of hard-boiled rhetoric by sports pundits who get mileage out of playing the parts of cynics on TV. But Knapp does go on to call the Eller manuevers for a seat at the collective bargaining table “a giraffe and an 800-pound gorilla circling the perimeter of the room.”

Knapp also chooses not to zero in on brain trauma, which is where former football players’ disabilities intersect with the public’s interest, not just the fans’ in expeditiously ending the lockout. She strikes the right note, however, in observing that John Mackey’s death following a long battle with dementia “served as a reminder of the negligence that once ruled treatment of former pro football players, by both their former employers and the union allegedly representing their interests.”

Irv Muchnick