Is it over for HBK?
Could this be the final image of Shawn Michaels' legendary sports-entertainment career?
ST. LOUIS – For any WWE Superstar, suffering two concussions in a short span of time is a dangerous scenario. But for someone with a history of concussions like Shawn Michaels, it may end up being career-threatening. HBK has a history of concussions going back to 1995, when he was assaulted and forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship. Since then, Michaels has been no stranger to brain trauma, even nearly losing a chance at achieving his boyhood dream of winning the WWE Championship thanks to a concussion.
Injuries are a common part of sports, but a concussion is not just any injury. Because of the physical nature of any sport, concussions might be the toughest thing to overcome. Shawn Michaels has been around a long time and fought his way back from numerous injuries, but at this point in his career, a pair of severe concussions might be too much to overcome.
Why? Well, research from a number of leading neurologists has shown that multiple concussions can cause permanent brain injuries, possibly leading to debilitating memory loss, confusion, dementia and even depression. In the world of sports-entertainment, that’s a dangerous proposition. If a Superstar steps into the ring with impaired brain function, he can put not only himself, but also his partners or opponents into a dangerous situation. Even with the fighting spirit and heart of a champion that HBK possesses, this trauma might be too much for ANY athlete to overcome.
In April 2001, former NFL quarterback Troy Aikman was forced to retire from the sport due to the effects of suffering too many concussions. In his final two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Aikman suffered four concussions, the last of which came on what would be the final play of his career.
During his emotional retirement speech, Aikman choked back tears as he said that “I know it’s the right thing for me because of my health, concussions…It took its toll.” Aikman later added that “I want to play, but I just can’t do that anymore.” Let’s hope that the same is not true for Shawn Michaels.
Another example of what concussions can do to an athlete is the case of Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Corey Koskie. After suffering a freak concussion last July, Koskie has yet to return to Major League Baseball and may never be able to at all. As he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in a February interview, months later he still had days where feelings of dizziness and nausea wouldn’t allow him to get out of bed.
“I've talked to a lot of guys who've been through this and they say the worst thing you can do is put a time frame on it. You take it day by day and see how you feel that day,” Koskie said in that interview.
A year later, Koskie is still on the sidelines from just that one concussion. Given Shawn Michaels’ history of having multiple concussions over the years, is this the future HBK is staring at?
Michaels has the heart of a champion and the spirit of a warrior. But while his heart may be telling him go, HBK must ultimately listen to his brain, which will give him the answer to the biggest question of all. Could the events of the past few weeks end Shawn Michaels’ career once and for all? Only time will tell.