Former WWE Superstar and current ESPN personality Jonathan Coachman was on the latter’s First Take program yesterday (July 20), and he spoke on the recent lawsuit filed by Konstantine Kyros on behalf of 50 ex-wrestlers against his old employer.
Coach passionately defends WWE, and specifically Chairman Vince McMahon, against the allegations in the suit - and reveals that he believes he experienced several brain injuries during his five year run as a performer.
Here’s a transcript of his statements from a highlight video ESPN released (also embedded below):
In 2003 was the first time I got into the ring to train to be an in-ring participant. The very first day I was in there, I suffered a concussion. There’s a very good chance... I didn’t get them all evaluated, but... probably between 10 and 20 concussions during my time from 2003 through 2008.
And the one thing I’ve always said about Vince McMahon is this: he is more loyal than any person, boss, human being that I have ever met in my life. It’s not just because he signed my paychecks for nearly a decade.
I don’t like it, in fact, I hate it when a certain group of people, and this was always the case when stars would leave to go somewhere else or they’d get fired because of something stupid that they did, and then they would blame Vince for whatever issues it was that they had.
Vince has recognized that, so he has paid all these guys for years and years and all he asks - all he asks - is that once a year at WrestleMania they show up, sign some autographs, shake some hands and then he pays them enough to live, right? And, so, in response to this, what do these 50 guys do? They go out and file a lawsuit that he was not there for them, and the company was not there for them, when they had all these concussion issues.
This drives me crazy, because for a lot of these people, this is a dream. It’s a dream come true. It’s not an easy business, it’s a tough business. But to come out and say that the company didn’t take care of you because of these concussions is just wrong. It will go away, and as a former employee and a person that loves that business, it just drives me crazy and I don’t like it.
One of the tenets of Coach’s argument is that the plaintiffs are biting a hand that’s still feeding them. I don’t know the details of WWE’s arrangement with any of the names listed on the suit, but if each of them is still receiving some kind of stipend as he seems to be implying, that’s new information to me. The company is public in offering to pay for medical expenses like drug treatment when former contractors ask for assistance, but I wasn’t aware of any compensation for people not signed to Legends deals.
The other point he makes is a familiar refrain among athletes and sports fans: it’s a dangerous job, people know that going in and those lucky enough to do it are living their childhood dream. Again, I’m not a lawyer and I have no special insight into this case or WWE’s contractor agreements, but even if all of those things are true, employees may still have a valid legal argument that the company didn’t meet their commitments or somehow acted negligently with regard to their well-being.
Regardless, Coach’s opinion is now on record, and soon the legal system will respond to the lawyers working for both the wrestlers and WWE.
What’s your opinion?