Startling in its breadth, Benedict and Yaeger's investigation into the off-the-field violence and criminal behavior that pervades the culture of professional football is as eye opening as it is disturbing. That these guys get into trouble is nothing new, but when their offenses are collected in one place--with mug shots, court records, police reports, and interviews with arresting officers--the effect is as surreal as the statistics: 21 percent of the NFL's players have been charged with a serious crime.
How serious? The docket begins with assault, rape, and domestic violence and keeps spiraling out of control. These are not just blind allegations; the authors name names and match felonies to players. Some of the better-known examples: Cornelius Bennett--rape and sexual assault; Cortez Kennedy--domestic violence; Michael Irvin--cocaine and marijuana possession; Nate Newton--sexual assault; Warren Moon--domestic violence; Jake Plummer--sexual abuse; Andre Rison--aggravated assault; Bruce Smith--driving under the influence; and Deion Sanders--aggravated assault, disorderly convict, trespassing, and battery.
Yet, as disturbing as the names and numbers are, Benedict and Yaeger's contention, backed by exhaustive research, is even worse: the league pretty much looks away, tacitly condoning the havoc caused by these overpaid, coddled men-children, whose very propensity for unchecked mayhem fills stadiums on Sunday. But, then, in the NFL's view of things, football is the law. Make no mistake about Pros and Cons though; as sensational as much of it is, this is a serious work with serious footnotes compiled by serious journalists, who, in the end, do something the game's establishment has avoided: they offer a detailed "Game Plan" for addressing the issues they raise. It begins with respecting law and imposing order. --Jeff Silverman
From Library Journal
When the authors checked a sample consisting of a third of the players on National Football League teams during the 1996/97 season, they discovered that 21 percent had been arrested or indicted for serious crimes ranging from fraud to homicide. Upon investigating the specific instances behind the statistics, they uncovered a disturbing trend?the NFL continues to employ players with multiple arrests and multiple convictions, just as long as they are capable of playing winning football. About the only thing that drew official sanction was the public revelation of extensive gambling activity because that was perceived as casting doubt on the integrity of the game. Benedict is the author of Public Heroes, Private Felons (LJ 10/15/97), and Yaeger has authored or coauthored a number of sport-related books. Expect a lot of demand for this book in the coming months since it is a perfect candidate for the talk-show circuits. Most public libraries will wish to purchase, as will many academic libraries with sports or sports ethics collections.?Terry Madden, Boise State Univ Lib., ID
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