In the latest sign that WWE are taking the concussion issue extremely seriously, just days after Dolph Ziggler suffered retrogade amnesia from an errant Jack Swagger kick, WWE have donated a whopping $1.2 million to Chris Nowinski's Sports Legacy Institute in order to help fund research into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), according to a recent article in USA Today:
"World Wrestling Entertainment, known for past stars such as Hulk Hogan and current champ John Cena, says it is making a gift of $1.2 million over three years to further research aimed at developing a treatment for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The brain disease, associated with repeated concussions, has come under scrutiny amid concussion-related lawsuits by more than 4,000 former NFL players against the league. CTE has been linked to depression and dementia."
Given that the story heavily quotes WWE Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events Paul Levesque, it's likely that this was a decision made by Triple H, which bodes well for the future and suggests that the talent's health and wellbeing is much higher up on his agenda than it was Vince McMahon's in the past. Obviously this donation is also a great public relations move too, as concussions to soldiers from explosives during war is a big concern of the U.S. military.
The only possible criticism is that this move arguably came far too late. For years, Nowinski was looked at as a pussy who milked the symptoms of his concussion to get paid to stay at home, even though in reality gutting it up and working through such severe head trauma for five straight weeks cost him his wrestling career. Indeed, when he criticised Linda McMahon's aloof and distant reaction to the death of Lance Cade during her first election campaign, WWE attacked the messenger rather than address his very real concerns. As recently as December 2010, WWE lawyer Jerry McDevitt was still disputing the conclusion of the Sports Legacy Institute that Chris Benoit had CTE at the time of his death.
Irv Muchnick also noted how WWE "was opposed to the public conversation of traumatic brain injury before it was in favor of it", just like the NFL. He also detailed other examples of WWE hypocrisy on the issue:
- Stephanie McMahon committing perjury to the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on December 14th, 2007 that she was not aware of any incident where a wrestler in a match received a concussion. A ridiculous lie made worse by the fact that she had personally checked on Chavo Guerrero when he had suffered a scary concussion from Billy Kidman botching his shooting star press finisher on August 24th, 2004.
- Vince McMahon telling CNN in late 2007 that he had banned chair shots to the head, only to script Lance Cade to take one at the hands of Shawn Michaels in a brutal burial angle a year later.
- Triple H using a chair shot to the head against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 27 when said blows were banned by company policy. To quell the criticism after the fact, both men were apparently fined.