Return to Headlines

VIDEO: Chris Nowinski, 2018 POTWP Inductee


Here is the introduction to Chris Nowinski inductee ceremony:


Chris Nowinski grew up in Arlington Heights and attended Ivy Hill Elementary School, Thomas Middle School, where he graduated in 1992, and Hersey High School, where he graduated in 1996. While at Hersey, Chris was a standout on the football field, as well as the basketball court.  On the football field, Chris earned All-Conference and All-Area honors in 1995, and also earned All-Conference honors on the basketball court during the 1995-96 season.

Upon graduating from Hersey, Chris went on to play football at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts.  While at Harvard, Chris was described by head football coach, Tim Murphy, as, “a great teammate and player” and also as someone with a “great moral compass.” Chris earned All Ivy League honors as a defensive tackle in 1999. In 2000, Chris earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology.

In 2001, he was part of the WWE series “Tough Enough”, which was a professional wrestling reality series where contestants compete for a WWE contract. Chris did very well, and finished 2nd, and was signed by the WWE and made his debut on June 10, 2002. Under the name “Chris Harvard”, Chris had a busy and successful stint in professional wrestling, until June 23, 2003 when he suffered a serious concussion during a match, and was ultimately forced to retire from professional wrestling.

In 2006, Chris wrote and published a book titled Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis, where he spoke in detail about his career ending injury, and brought to light the dangers of concussions in sports, especially football. His book also contained the stories of several NFL players, as well as wrestlers.

In late 2006, Chris took it upon himself to look into the suicide of former NFL star Andre Watters, and was instrumental in finding the fourth case of CTE in an NFL player and professional wrestler.

In June of 2007, Chris and Dr. Robert Cantu co-founded the Concussion Legacy Institute, later called the Concussion Legacy Foundation (CLF). Their mission is to research head related sports injuries to increase awareness of safety in sports. On September 5, 2007, ESPN aired a documentary of his work on their show “Outside the Lines.”

In 2008, CLF partnered with Boston University School of Medicine and formed the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE Center). Then in 2009, the foundation created the Coaches Concussion Clinic program which educates coaches, parents, and athletes about sports injuries.

Raising awareness about CTE due to concussions in contact sports has been Chris’s major work since he retired from wrestling. While his book first began the discussion on the CTE crisis, the CLF has conducted breakthrough research in this field.

Along the way, Chris also earned his PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the Boston University School of Medicine, and he currently resides in Boston, MA.

Adam Harris