Chris Nowinski’s brush with fame in WWE didn’t go far beyond his stint on the inaugural season of Tough Enough, but since leaving pro wrestling behind, he’s been doing his most important work yet.
After leaving WWE, the Harvard graduate drew on both his own experiences and those of former NFL players to write Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, an ahead-of-its-time warning signal about the fragile state of the brain in contact sports. Knowing what we know now about post-concussion symptoms and CTE, it’s not unreasonable to say that he’s at least partly to thank for the precautionary retirement of Edge, and more recently, Daniel Bryan. Fox Sports recently got in touch with Nowinski to get his opinion on Bryan’s retirement, and he sounds grateful that no further damage will be done.
“It’s tough to walk away when you feel like you could still perform. In a sense, I was lucky because I had headaches I couldn’t kick and other problems that told me I shouldn’t go out and do (wrestling) again. He didn’t have that. He had to really dig deep to find the justification to walk away from the job he loved. It has been very interesting to watch the process. I’ve read that he was upset about WWE’s decision, but he saw other doctors and WWE really encouraged him to find another path because they recognized his brain was injured too much.”
Nowinski goes on to state that he speaks regularly with Triple H and WWE physicians about neurological health, claiming that WWE superstars are more willing than ever before to report concussion concerns. So, once again, it’s good to take Dr. Shelby’s advice and realize that there are silver linings here. And I’ve got to say, between pioneering concussion research and showing up at Yeezy Season 3, wrestlers with Harvard degrees tend to do pretty well for themselves.