This week, news broke that a group of dozens of former wrestlers were suing WWE for damages related to failure to disclose the dangers of brain injuries. There are a lot of high-profile wrestlers involved, including Jimmy Snuka. On Wednesday, ESPN anchor and former WWE employee Jonathan Coachman went on the air to stridently defend his former boss and essentially shame the wrestlers involved in the lawsuit.
Despite the fact that Coachman readily claims he had “between 10 and 20” concussions while working in WWE over a five-year period, he is still adamantly defending the company and saying they deserve none of the blame. Keep in mind that Coachman suffered these concussions while working primarily as an announcer.
Coachman and WWE reunited last year when ESPN and WWE entered into a working relationship around the time of SummerSlam. Since then, Coachman has hosted a weekly segment on ESPN where he welcomes a WWE guest for an interview.
Here is a complete transcript of Coachman’s comments, courtesy of the fine individuals over at Cageside Seats:
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.
The fact that Coachman is going on national television to defend WWE might indicate this lawsuit is going to be more substantial than the last concussion suit the company managed to get shut down.