Austen Lane is a former NFL player who now competes in MMA and hosts a sports radio show. He is also a huge wrestling fan and actually played for AEW owners the Khans while with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Lane spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast about many topics including how NFL players deal with CTE.
"I'm gonna be 100 percent candid – it's definitely an ongoing problem. Anytime you have guys with colliding heads that weigh 350 pounds, something's gonna happen. You can make the helmets better and rules safer, but at the end of the day these guys are getting bigger, faster, stronger every year and our brains aren't adapting. I appreciate all of the precautions with the rule changes but you're still gonna have problems," revealed Lane.
"I wish I had the answer on what you could do to help with CTE. I've been pretty blessed where I have had some concussions, but for the most part, I haven't seen any side effects of those."
Lane said it would be great to think the NFL is open minded but "it's not that way." He then revealed the two reasons why guys trying to make a roster won't report concussions:
"If you go to report that concussion, a couple of things happen: 1) you have to sit out and that's the worst thing you can do when trying to make a team in training camp. …And 2) it goes on your [medical] record and if you're trying to get a new contract, a team can see your medical history, see 3-4 concussions and they're not gonna sign you because they're taking the risk," stated Lane who added that he never reported a concussion unless he was knocked out unconscious and that he would treat his concussions with Ibuprofen.
"Another big issue in the NFL is the use of opioids where if you wanna use medical marijuana which might have better effects for concussions, but the way it's set up, we just have to chase everything with Ibuprofen or a stronger pain pill. Then, of course, the pain pills mask the concussion symptoms and you have guys 3-4 years out of the league that you see getting in trouble for domestic violence or bad decisions. Guys that I always went to vouch for are completely different people and I think CTE has a direct correlation to that."
"It was a shot that we haven't seen in a long time in pro wrestling on a main stage. As far as being on a ppv and a big spectacle like Fyter Fest, it was hard to watch," admitted Lane.
He then said that it was Cody's decision and unfortunately there was a chair malfunction. He then said that in 2019 we should be past it and it's not something kids should see.
"But at the same time from an entertainment standpoint, what was everyone talking about afterwards? What was the biggest story after Fyter Fest? It was the chair shot. You saw it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook," said Lane. "Granted, it might have been bad publicity, but as they say any publicity is good publicity. Cody took that risk and he understands the consequences, so while I hated to see it I understand where it came from.
On AEW as a whole, Lane said they have hit two home runs thus far with Double or Nothing and Fyter Fest. He praised the promotion for getting back into the storytelling business which is something WWE stopped doing after The Attitude Era. The stories often go beyond the ring as he mentioned the Bucks' Behind The Elite series as something that gets fans invested.
Lane then praised talents like Hangman Page and Darby Allin for making the most of their increased exposure and opportunities. Page will have the opportunity to become the inaugural AEW World Champion when he faces Chris Jericho at All Out and Lane was asked on who he would like to see become AEW's first champ.
"Here's the thing about Jericho that I respect: he always seems to re-invent himself. Now we have this ultra-heel…and right now you need to put the belt on Jericho because he is the household name," said Lane. "I think he's the biggest heel in the company, no disrespect to MJF, but I think going forward Hangman Page is gonna be a legend in his own right. I still think the audience is still getting acquainted with him, so to me it makes sense to keep Jericho at the head of the company."
With AEW arriving on the scene, nearly everyone says that the presence of competition should drive WWE to put out a better product and Lane is also in that camp when asked if AEW would help or hurt WWE.
"Honestly, I think competition brings out the best out in everyone. You see that now with Vince handing off the reigns to Paul Heyman on Raw…it shows that WWE's paying attention," Lane said before adding that a lot of the wrestlers post-Attitude Era got caught in a cycle of just going through the motions and that's about the change.
Austen Lane can be heard weekdays 3 - 6 pm EST on ESPN690.