The WWE has an article on WWE.com talking about Daniel Benoit’s Fragile X Syndrome. The article intimates that the WWE didn’t know about the condition until reading an interview conducted Tuesday by Vancouver’s News1130. This interview led WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt to make statements alluding to the fact that Daniel’s condition may have led Benoit to kill his family. “Him and Nancy were clearly struggling about this whole issue, about how to take care of Daniel,” said McDevitt. “I don’t know what he confronted when he went back into the house,” he said. “No one really knows that. We’ll have to see. Clearly this issue of the son was a stressor on both of their relationships for some time.”
The WWE article alleges that sources close to Benoit recalls similar conversations with him, where he described his son’s condition as “a learning disability much like autism.” This source quotes Benoit as saying “Daniel wasn’t capable of interacting with other children and was afraid of other children. Daniel also had a hard time making eye contact with everyone, which was another symptom of his disability.” Benoit also claimed that his son was on medication for this condition.
The WWE continues to alledge that a co-worker and long-time friend of the Benoits speculates that perhaps the pressures of home and Daniel’s illness had gotten to him, causing him to snap and take the lives of his wife and son before taking his own. “Is it possible that after Chris killed Nancy (for whatever reason), he felt Daniel wouldn’t be able to get the care and attention he required as a special needs child (if that is indeed true) with no mother and a father either in jail or dead? Did he then decide that the only way he could protect and take care of his son was to take him to the next world and go with him? In his warped and twisted state, did he think this was the only way to shield his son from a difficult life of pain and hardship? It doesn’t condone or justify a damn thing, but it’s the best reason I can think of. I’m trying to put together some semblance of logic for his actions, but it’s an impossible task trying to explain this.”
But the WWE article doesn’t divulge these close sources and long-time friends of Benoit who have said these things. Others close to Benoit, like Bret Hart have said they had no idea that anything was wrong with Daniel and that Chris never said anything about. And with a lot of wrestlers saying how private Benoit was, I would tend to believe that Benoit didn’t discuss Daniel’s condition with his co-workers.
Vince McMahon on was on The Today Show this morning and continued his slant saying steroids had nothing to do with the tragedy and talked up the effectiveness of the WWE Wellness Program. Vince also made Benoit out to be a monster. He said that WWE is not trying to hide from the fact that Benoit was a part of their organization. “Unfortunately, he was,” Vince said. He said, “There was no way of telling this man was a monster.” He mentioned Benoit never gave off any signs of this kind of behavior. When the host asked if the business creates monsters, Vince said no. He said they are well adjusted people and performers. He said that he and his company need to move on as best as they can for themselves and their fans.
I really can’t believe how low the WWE is sinking in an effort to put as much space between themselves and Chris Benoit. For the WWE to lay this tragedy at the feet of a 7-year-old boy is just terrible. And then to just lay Benoit out there like he had a killing nature that was just waiting to get out is certainly a strech. The WWE Wellness Program, while good start, is no where near as comprehensive as it should be. In a business that can keep a man away from his family 5-6 days a week – sometimes more – mental health should be as much as a priority as steroid use. And that leads into “does this business create monsters”. Absolutely. It’s no secret Vince loves and pushes big guys. If you want to make it to the top in the WWE, you have to use steroids to bulkd up. Add in the mental strain of being away from your family for so long as well as any drug or alcohol abuse picked up along the way. How many profesional wrestlers have long, happy marriages? How many wrestlers physically abuse their spouses? I know those are broad generalizations, but I am sure they aren’t far off. Much like the life of a Rock star, being a professional wrestler makes it hard to have a happy family.
Professional Wrestlers are victims of their environment, Chris Benoit is just hte most extreme manifestation of it. Look at wrestlers that have recently passed away, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Eddy Guerrero . . . they all died by the monster professional wrestling created for them.
So now what? All this tragedy in the world of Professional Wrestling, where do we go? The WWE obviously needs to expand on their Wellness Program. And there needs to be a third party auditing the program so the WWE can’t just look away if a major star test postive for something like steroids. The program needs to be expanded to cover all aspects of a performers health, not just steroid abuse and their hearts. It should cover all drug and alcohol abuse as well as overall physical and mental health. The WWE can start by treating their performers like employees instead of independent contractors and start offering mandatory health insurance. The WWE pulls in so much money would it take that much to setup health insurance and deduct a portion of the performers paycheck like any other business operating today?
If the WWE doesn’t take action and keep their superstars healthy, its going to get to a point where the government steps. It may already be at that point. But either way, the WWE needs to start taking responsibility for its performers instead of just taking until the wrestlers have nothing left.