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Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL Hardcover – October 21, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Printing edition (October 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446524034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446524032
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Rummel on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
NFL fans beware, this book will shake you to your boots. We've all heard the occasional stories in the press of an NFL player being arrested for this or that, or someone serving time for an offense, but Benedict and Yaeger make a compelling case for much more widespread criminal problems in the league. This book is meticulously documented and brutally direct in accusing the NFL of cow-towing to the bottom line in its circle-the-wagons mentality.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Walters, mkw@carroll.com on August 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that every sports fan with a conscience should read.
No. It doesn't say that "all football players are criminals," but it does say that the behavior of male athletes off the field is not highly scrutinized before they are in the professional ranks and even when iniscretions of players or coaches (often an understatement of some of the acts described in the book) are made public while an athlete is professional, the team wants the incident swept under the rug.
Parents of star high school male athletes need to see this book so they know what's going on in their students' high schools.
The stories hit you one after another. They may shock you, but after the shock wares off, you'll realize you're reading a classic investigative masterpiece that could bring about change, if the forces in the NFL are willing to listen to the authors.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was suprised at the conduct & statistics in this book, but not shocked. Being an avid football fan in a football city I've seen and heard the coverups. Hopefully this expose will be a catalyst for the League to institute a plan for help for the "men". Even their coaches ignore the law and thier dirt swept under the rug. Two words would clean up the whole mess --- "Your fired"
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a classic example of how athletes's crimes are covered up or ignored. It's also disturbing to find out that the people who are supposed to be controlling the behavior of the players are just as involved in actions that are not appropriate. Even myself, who pays close attention to all news in the NFL, was surprised at how many crimes were actually commited in the NFL. I guarentee you will be surprised, too.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TundraVision on January 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Although the authors' statistical methodology may not be perfect, the anecdotal material is hard-hitting. We are not talking mischievous hijinx here. This is some serious stuff. Why is this going on? Why isn't the NFL doing anything? Here are some excerpts:
A featured player's PR guy says: "But he's not any different than a lot of the other guys. He's a highly emotional kind of person, like a lot of ballplayers. You don't become a professional football player without a high level of testosterone running through your body."[p. 38]
The counselor whom the Cleveland Browns asked to counsel an alleged abuser and his fiance told her: "This is [his] lifestyle. He goes out every week and has to basically try to punish people on the field. He'll go after them and try to kill them. A lot of times he can't relate to coming home and not doing that to you when he's upset." [p. 153-154]
Rev. Jesse Jackson says: "By and large, we are seeing the end result of a long line of exploitation... Men being used who come out of very desperate straits, having extraordinary, exploitable, commercial talent. They are put on a pedestal in high school, removed from the earth and its responsibilities. Then they are recruited by the top colleges ... and study less difficult subject matter because they are actually working [for the universities.] These guys have been exploited from the time it was obvious they could jump higher and run faster. Athletes of stature don't walk on the ground and are allowed to play by different rules. Once their use is gone, they are no longer protected. But while they are playing ball, much of their behavior is cushioned. They are insulated from regular rules, attending classes, adhering to regular socializing processes." [p. 170]
So what's the solution? One would be tempted to try to dissuade one's children from idolizing some of the poor role models in the NFL for a kinder, gentler sport like figure skating. But then there's Tonya Harding.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If reading this book doesn't make the typical NFL fan shocked and appalled at how athletes get away with serious crimes because of their athletic talent, then something is definitely wrong with our society.
Sure, we all knew from high school on that jocks are treated differently, but to read the horrifying stories that Benedict, Yaeger, and Yaeger carefully and thoroughly detail and to know that it could just be the tip of the iceberg is frightening.
I'll never look at pro football the same again. And even though I'm a Bills fan, I'll never buy another game ticket as long as they employ someone like Wayne Simmons.
Given the facts in this book, it's not a surprise that a case like OJ's happened, but that it didn't happen sooner.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Once you finish this book you'll know why the Minnesota Vikings drafted Randy Moss after several teams passed him up in the NFL Draft. After initially believing that Moss would corrupt the Vikings, this book shows how it is almost the other way around. While the chapter on the Vikings and their problems was revealing, other chapters, particularly the ones including interviews with Art Schlichter and Darryl Henley from their respective prisons, helped the authors make two key points of the book. Schlichter is imprisoned because he committed the one crime (gambling) the NFL won't tolerate and Henley is in jail as long as he is because he, like many other NFL players, really believed he was too privileged to be limited by laws. These chapters were very important to the book and made up for the chapters which include sex-related crimes where no charges were made. I had a slight she-said, he-said problem with these parts of the book. However, the book stands out as one of the best Sports books ever written due to the ability of the authors to suggest a point of view and then prove it with actual situations and factual information. You'll never view the NFL the same after you read this book.
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