In his article today in the Manchester Journal Inquirer on the “death clause” in World Wrestling Entertainment talent contracts, reporter Don Michak gets a rare direct word from Linda McMahon’s campaign spokesman, Ed Patru. (More commonly, these types of questions get immediately shunted over to WWE’s PR flack, Robert Zimmerman, in what ethically, if not legally, amounts to in-kind corporate contributions to McMahon for Senate.)
Michak does not say if the Patru quotes were delivered in person, and if so, whether Patru’s nose, in the process, grew as long as Pinocchio’s.
Michak writes: “Patru said that in cases where ‘talent’ is injured while performing WWE-related work, ‘the company not only fully covers all medical expenses, but also continues to pay them during the period in which they are recuperating and unable to perform.’”
Tell that to Charlie Haas, who suffered two herniated disks, which WWE’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Maroon, tried to jawbone down to a “stinger,” before the company released Haas. See “Treatment of WWE Performer Charlie Haas Is a Study of Linda McMahon’s Character,” http://wrestlingbabylon.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/treatment-of-wwe-performer-charlie-haas-is-a-study-of-linda-mcmahons-character/.
Tell that to Andrew Martin, who died at age 33 from a prescription drug overdose (and whose brain, like Chris Benoit’s, was then found to have severe damage). As I reported in the Charlie Haas piece, Martin was released while he was recovering from spinal fusion surgery. Oh, but I forgot: Martin was one of those unfortunate souls who have “addictions.” Just like Lance Cade, I guess. Was Martin also one of those personal-responsibility independent contractors Linda McMahon “might have met once”?
Like everything else in an unregulated environment, taking care of injured performers is something WWE does … except when it doesn’t, especially when no one is looking. That is why I say that this out-of-control industry, which is bankrolling a $50 million “self-funded” campaign for high office by a political novice who has fed off corporate bailouts, needs to be investigated and regulated.