Morning Benoit Update: Concussion Angle, Media Focuses on Steroids, Debra Williams Speaks Out, Bret Hart and Kevin Sullivan Comment & More

There has been an overflow of coverage in the mainstream media on Chris Benoit’s apparent murder of his wife, Nancy, and son, Daniel, as well as his suicide. Here are links – and excerpts where appropriate – to some of the stories published in big U.S. markets, in Benoit’s local Canada and Atlanta papers, as well as some other coverage that touches on perspectives not yet widely reported.

– In today’s New York Times, author/former wrestler Chris Nowinski talks about concussions in the context of Benoit’s behavior. “He was one of the only guys who would take a chair shot to the back of the head … which is stupid,” said Nowinski, who according to the article was trying to persuade the coroner examining Mr. Benoit to examine his brain to look for neurofibrillary tangles in the brain’s cortex which would be a telltale sign of significant problems. The article goes on to say that Nowinski – who has written a book called Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis that talks about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which can cause memory loss, depression and “bizarre, paranoid behavior” – so far has been turned down. He goes on to say that “Part of me hopes there was something wrong with his brain … The Chris Benoit I knew was always more concerned about everybody else’s well-being than his own.”

Also in the story, Nancy Benoit’s ex-husband Kevin Sullivan says: “I’m in the dark … I wrestled with him a lot. I thought he was a great performer … Last night when I found out, it was shocking, just shocking.”

– The New York Daily News focused on the steroid angle, as did quite a bit of the mainstream press, despite WWE’s claims that steroids shouldn’t be the main focus. The News leads with a headline about Daniel Benoit getting injected with human growth hormone: “Tiny son got illegal boosts?”

– The latest AP story (as found on the New York Post’s Web site) includes details released by WWE about Benoit’s final phonecalls and text messages to fellow wrestlers, including confirmation of the story originally reported by 1Wrestling.com that Benoit claimed his wife and son were throwing up blood and may have food poisoning.

– Also in New York, the Post’s Todd Venezia takes a detailed look at the story of Chris and Nancy, the Post writes a look at other wrestling deaths, and Ellis Henican’s column for Newsday looks at the issue.

– In Chicago, the Sun-Times features steroids in the subheadline, and Dave Meltzer is quoted in the Tribune as saying “I know [Nancy Benoit] was concerned about the drugs — painkillers and the steroids … That was a problem.”

– The Edmonton Sun quotes Dr. John Bradford, associate chief of the integrated forensic program for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, who says that “People that abuse steroids carry with them an increase risk of rage and rage attacks. There’s also an increased risk of depression, so it’s kind of a double whammy.” The story’s author goes on to write that, according to the doctor, “murder-suicides that wipe out a family are most often carried out by the father who believes his family will be ‘better off in heaven’ than alive.”

Tim Baines and Mindelle Jacobs at the Sun also write about the tragedy.

– In the Calgary Sun, Bret Hart says “The sad thing about it is I never saw Chris lose his composure and I never saw him get angry. He was always a very solid, sound, logical kind of guy. It’s totally the last thing you’d ever expect to come out of Chris Benoit. I think that’s why everyone’s having such a hard time coming to terms with this.” A blog on Sportsnet.ca also includes a video interview with Bret.

– The Daytona Beach News-Journal has a story on Nancy Benoit’s wrestling career.

– The Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the story from the perspective of people who knew the family outside of wrestling.

– Various wrestling news sites are reporting that RAW today in Australia is being replaced with Jerry Springer and Top Model; and in the UK is being replaced with a WWE Greatest Champions special.

– Ray Ratto has written a column, looking at the drug/steroid angle and WWE’s reaction to it, over at Sportsline.com; Wade Keller talks about what issues other than the steroids (which shouldn’t be glossed over, but are potentially just one part of a bigger issue here, in my opinion) should be top of mind over at PWTorch.com.

– And finally this morning, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ex-wife Debra Williams has spoken out about the Benoit — and her own — situation, saying her story is similar to Nancy Benoit’s and that she was under a gag order for a year not to talk about the last time Austin abused her. In a video segment attached to the online story, Williams says about Austin, “Steroids! He was doing steroids. I saw him do it, so I know he did it.” She goes on to say that “I have lived it. I have lived domestic abuse. I don’t even want to think about what Nancy went through … Why kill your wife, who’s innocent, and why kill your seven year old, a little child? That’s why I have to speak up. I’ve been silent for too many years.”

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