Nowinski on conversations he had with Chris Benoit

Feb 8, 2012 - by Steve Gerweck

Busted Open radio interviewed concussion expert Christopher Nowinski who
discussed conversations he had with Chris Benoit. He said regarding
Benoit: “We incorporated Sports Legacies ten days before the Benoit
tragedy. A year prior to that I sat down with Benoit when I was still
working for the company for the Smackdown Your Vote in the locker room
in Manchester, New Hampshire and he just started asking me questions
about the book. ‘So what are you finding that is happening long term?’
Things like that. He was more interested than any other wrestler which
helps me realize that he actually knew there was something wrong with
him. He asked me about how many concussions I had and I asked him and he
said, ‘Well I had more concussions than I can count.’ If you knew Chris,
you knew he wouldn’t take a day off for anything. So because he told me
that and then he told me to give him a call. I remember months later, I
was intimidated by him because he was champion and I was young and then
I called him and he acted like he didn’t know why I was calling after he
gave me his number. So I thought maybe there was a memory thing or maybe
a mood thing going on. So when it happened , I was sure that is why it
happened. Knowing how other guys died from this disease had similar
falls from grace and knowing what a great guy he was when he was in his
prime or when I met him at 35. So I knew I had to contact Michael
Benoit, his father. So I tracked down Michael Benoit and I said, ‘listen
I’m not telling you an answer, but this may have played a role and we
need to find out what the answer is.’ Mike thank God agreed and helped
put this whole thing in perspective.” Nowinski on Benoit’s last year of
his life: “Chris was a different guy emotionally. You talked to the guys
who were on the road with him over the last year and he would break down
crying for no reason, paranoia about someone kidnapping his son so he
moved homes, different routes to the airports just in case someone was
following him. He was really losing it because his brain had this
pattern of cell death that left a lot of cognition, but destroyed
emotions and impulse control… We are trying to understand why it
happened so it could be prevented in the future. People can see the
warning signs in these people and there are plenty of warning signs. We
can change what we do so the disease doesn’t form in the first place.
We can raise awareness so we can develop a treatment for it. People have
to be accountable for their actions. But the other side is when people
get a brain disease, they are not accountable. Verne Gagne killed a man
in an Alzheimer’s home. He is not being prosecuted for murder because he
didn’t know what happened. CTE is different because it’s a slow
progressing disease and in your forties no one is going to ask, did he
know what he was doing? Was he in control?’ It’s much much more
difficult but certainly Verne is not considered a murderer for that.
It’s a tough situation, I rather work on prevention.” You can listen to
Busted Open with Dave LaGreca on Sirius XM Radio every Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday from 2-4 ET on Sirius 94, XM 208.

(source: Wrestling Globe Newsletter)

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