FOLLOW Mr. Tito on Twitter: @titowrestling
MR. TITO STRIKES BACK - More Dangerous than Guns, Prescription Drug Abuse in Sports and in Pro Wrestling
By Mr. Tito
Dec 6, 2012 - 10:38:26 PM
For today's column entry, there will be no "Excellence in Column Writing" swagger behind the ol' Mr. Tito gimmick nor will I be purposely trolling. I would like to spend this column entry speaking on a serious topic that is eroding today's athletes and pro wrestlers.
On Saturday, NFL and Kansas City Chiefs football player, Jovan Belcher, murdered his girlfriend with 3-4 shots to the head, chest, and abdomen in front of his own mother and with his 3 month daughter also in the house. Belcher then drove to the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility where he ended up shooting himself in front of the team's General Manager, Scott Pioli, and coaching staff that included Head Coach Romeo Crennel. The interesting thing to me was the reaction of the sports media. FOX Sports writer Jason Whitlock and later quoting Whitlock's points, Bob Costas immediately turned the issue into a 2nd Amendment political debate.
In addition to the political stance on the "right to bear arms", it seemed to me that various NFL Pre-Game Shows were showing sympathy towards Jovan Belcher despite the horrible acts he just committed. He not only shot his girlfriend in front of his mother and with his 3 month daughter in the house, but he forced others to witness his suicide. Do you think that Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel can just get over seeing a guy shoot himself? Both Pioli and Crennel are likely to think about what they could have done to "save" Belcher and if they could have done more as major figures in Belcher's life. After all, the Chiefs were Belcher's only NFL team and he was only 25 years old.
I was somewhat baffled by the way the sport media showed pity upon Belcher despite the horrific acts he did. It contrasted with the way the same media members completely trashed the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) during June 2007 when Chris Benoit, himself, committed murder/suicide by suffocating his own wife Nancy Benoit (formerly "Woman" in WCW) and 7 year old son Daniel and then an estimated 2 days later, killed himself by hanging. And guess what Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas? Those murders and suicide were NOT caused by guns.
But Jovan Belcher and Chris Benoit do have a few things in common, which is where the sports media dropped the ball this past weekend by refusing to acknowledge the common problems that BOTH had at the time of their killings. When Chris Benoit's body was examined, he was found to have Hydrocodone (for pain) and Xanex (for moods) in his system, while an elevated testosterone level suggested that Benoit took some sort of synthetic steroid at a prior time before his death. Chris Benoit's doctor actually plead guilty for charges relating to other patients by over-prescribing or illegally prescribing medications.
Jovan Belcher was said, by friends, to be drinking large quantities of alcohol regularly but was also becoming an abuser of pain killer medication. The NFL is a tough and violent game with an average career span of 3.5 years. This was Belcher's 3rd season, so thus on average, he was approaching the shelf life time for an NFL player. In addition to 2.5 years in the NFL, consider that he was a college player for 4 years and probably played extensively in High School. Lots of hits endured... The pain was there and thus convinced Belcher of extensive reported use of alcohol and painkillers.
Both Belcher and Benoit suffered from head injuries, too... Benoit endured repeated concussions as a pro wrestler during his 22 year career of taking a pounding in a squared circle. After his death, a medical examiner declared that Benoit had severe brain damage and had a brain that resembled an 85 year old Alzheimer's patient. Belcher reportedly endured multiple concussions in his career and complained of memory loss after his concussion suffered from November 18th during a game. To both the WWE and NFL's credit, they have both tried in recent years to significantly crack down on head injuries. Both have medical tests that are required to be passed before returning, but both are taking measures to reduce head trauma. For example, no more chairshots to the head in the WWE and the NFL is seriously cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits.
Brain damage mixed with excessive Prescription Drugs = BAD combination. Don't get me wrong... Belcher pulled the trigger and Benoit choked out his family. THEY did it and they should know "right" from "wrong" as grown adults. Still, both were taking substances that altered the damaged mental states caused by their professions.
Where Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock completely missed a great opportunity to have a REAL conversation in America was to avoid speaking directly about Prescription Drug Abuse. It is rampant not only in Sports or Pro Wrestling, but in the United States of America. According to the U.S.'s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Prescription Drug abuse (used intentionally, aside from legitimate prescription) is only topped by Marijuana for what is deemed most common drug abuse. Marijuana is being prescribed for medical purposes and now recreational purposes in Washington and Colorado thanks to the last election. Consider that Prescription Drug abuse is exceeding much stronger recreational drugs, such as Cocaine and Heroin, and the medical industry appears quite scary as a source of abuse. Worse yet, overdose deaths caused by drug abuse from Prescription Drugs actually doubles the overdose deaths caused by Cocaine/Heroin.
Painkillers are the #1 prescribed drug used and by a margin. In addition to treating pain, prescribed painkillers are also used recreationally. Say what you will about Marijuana, but it's more natural in its drug state because you're essentially smoking it directly off the plant without much alteration. The Pharmaceutical Industry, however, are mixing various ingredients together to create synthetic drugs in hopes of assisting with pain. Despite the Federal Drug Administration testing, the FDA assumes that the drugs reviewed will be taken as prescribed. However, prescribed drugs passing through the FDA are not used as intended and often much more than prescribed. Much worse is the fact that human beings are made differently and handle each ingredient of the drugs differently.
Prescription drugs are tearing into the professional sports and entertainment industries. Forget the performance enhancer drugs, which aside from HGH and other new synthetic steroids always in development, are actually regularly tested for by the WWE and NFL. The types that are attempting to treat pain, anxiety, or depression are what's being abused and those are accepted forms of drugs because, once again, they are assumed to be taken as prescribed. But they aren't...
Many pro wrestler deaths have something related to prescription drug use as a possible cause of death. Several wrestlers during the early 2000's died due to an overdose of "Soma" or Carisoprodol, a strong muscle relaxer. Making this drug use worse for several wrestlers is how it would ignite with other prescribed drugs or alcohol consumed at the same time. Certainly, prescribed drugs for pain or depression do not mix well with prescribed drugs used to enhance muscle mass. Most of all, abusing prescribed drugs above their intended use is dangerous anyway, so thus abusing multiple types of prescribed drugs, with all of their active ingredients mixing together, is proving to be quite legal.
But what is being done? The Pharmaceutical Industry keeps growing and growing, while accountability of those prescribing the drugs and making them available aren't there yet. Chris Benoit's doctor or even Michael Jackson's doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray are found guilty for illegally prescribing drugs are rare exceptions but were only as a result of serious damage of their malpractice. The trends in America keep pointing up for prescription drug use and higher subsidies on their way for the Healthcare industry will possibly induce it further.
For the NFL and WWE's drug testing policies, they might need to get tougher on the abuse of such drugs and to continue their efforts to improve safety of their workplaces. Football requires grown men to collide at full force. Pro wrestling requires grown men to simulate combat and slams wrestlers on what isn't exactly a trampoline for a ring. During the 1980's, for example, Vince McMahon actually made a stiffer ring so that the action would look more realistic on television (he actually made the ring softer during the late 1990's, as Mick Foley complains about for the damage it did to his knees). Workplace conditions are highly dangerous to the human body for both the NFL and WWE.
So to Mr. Costas and Mr. Whitlock. Guns don't kill people... People kill people. That's not to say that there are issues with guns here in the United States, as seen by how easily kids in Columbine, a college student at Virginia Tech, or a kid calling himself "the Joker" shoots up a movie theater in Colorado will show you. Large quantities of assault weapons and ammo can be purchased easily without question and in unchecked markets such as online venues. There are many people who believe that politicians NOT directly sponsored by the National Rifle Association (NRA) will take away your guns. Gun sales are up exponentially at the moment and that's only going to cause an increased stock of guns that could be stolen from unsecured homes and used improperly.
But people on drugs can kill people... People with mental conditions can kill people.... That's where Costas and Whitlock dropped the ball in favor of a 2nd Amendment political stance. Majority of gun use is responsible and many states with concealed weapons laws are seeing gun crime decrease because of the deterrent. Alter someone's mental conscience and suddenly the knowledge of what's "right" or "wrong" is gone. Both Chris Benoit and Jovan Belcher "snapped", and with or without a gun, they performed horrible acts of violence. Sadly, neither man had the courage to stand trial and face the families they've ruined.
The Deaths by prescribed drugs, both in overdose and affecting others, requires the real regulations and enforcement, not guns. It seems that our society gives a free pass to the Medical industry because they do, in fact, save lives... But they are also feeding a large drug habit through illegal or excessive prescriptions. For the NFL and WWE, their performers do need pain medicine to get through the season or to wrestle the next match... All to entertain we, the fans... In many ways, I can understand the usage... But at the same time, I want them to be alive to tell stories of their glory days in their leagues.
Comments and Tweets are welcome.
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: @titowrestling