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League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth Paperback – August 26, 2014
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"Journalistically bruising." -- Peter King
"It is meticulously researched, artfully structured, engaging and well written... this is an informative, intriguing and sobering book about power and control. I recommend it strongly." - Nate Jackson, The Washington Post
"Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru's book 'League of Denial' should be required reading in secondary schools for all athletes. Those of us outside the lines will be wiser, as well, for having invested just a few hours to read it." - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News
"Meticulously documented and endlessly chilling." - The New York Times
“'League of Denial' may turn out to be the most influential sports-related book of our time." -The Boston Globe, Best Sports Books of 2013
About the Author
Mark Fainaru-Wada is an investigative reporter for ESPN. With his colleague Lance Williams, he co-authored the New York Times best-seller "Game of Shadows -- Barry Bonds, BALCO and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports." He lives in Petaluma, California, with his wife Nicole, son Max and daughter Ella.
Steve Fainaru is an investigative reporter for ESPN. While covering the Iraq war for the Washington Post, he received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his investigation into the U.S. military’s reliance on private security contractors. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife Maureen Fan, and son Will.
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Every. Single. Hit.
In fact my only complaint is that I find myself unable to watch football anymore. The story is haunting. The implications are deep. I wrestled in high school, and we had members of the football team who wrestled in the off-season. One of my fellow wrestlers went on to play pro-football with the Falcons. The implications of the concussion issue, and the actions of the NFL and other related companies like Ryddel (sports gear) are laid out in a factual manner, leaving it up to the reader to judge. I was never a major football fan, but now it feels like contributing to something darker.
That having been said, I find it a story I needed to be told. I needed the contextualization. I understand things vastly better now than I did, and appreciate the players more than before.
First, As the story of the destructive nature of football related concussions is investigated and revealed, the story unfolds like a police procedural. What will be uncovered next? The authors keep you engaged and turning pages. But then, the story stops abruptly. It is not over. It is like those Dick Wolfe "Law and Order" episodes that end with "To be continued." Only we will not have the pleasure of a conclusion next week. There is no trial that has meaning. No affirming Law and Order.
Then , there is the dark side of sports medicine to disillusion us. In fact it is the dark side of medical research as well. The authors do not pass final judgments, but it is clear that the allure of sports celebrity and money have an easy job in distorting the medicine and research practiced by many of the team physicians and the researchers behind them. Many of these people see and believe what profits them (or fans their vanity) The editors of the Journal, Neurosurgery, print unscientific peer-reviewed papers over the objection of the peer reviewers because it greatly increases the circulation to talk about professional athletes, and it assures the major editor of access to the sidelines at Giants games. These articles are then cited liberally as justification for what one Judge eventually calls it: fraud.
Equally disturbing - and here I criticize the authors - is the central idea of the expose that the "NFL" has been doing terrible things to its major assets - the players. No, it was not the faceless "NFL", it was individuals making decision and taking actions. One of the most disturbing aspects of the story is that there is almost no personal responsibility and no one is held to account. The "NFL" pays up once in a while, but its officers have their plush offices, they have their celebrity, they have their large retirement plans and seats at the Super Bowl . None of the physicians really seems to suffer any loss or shame, except for the one person who started it all and kept true to his science. He is relegated to the sidelines, criticized by all who are pushing to score fame and fortune from the issue of concussions. This is not the authors fault. They give us plenty of opportunity to see this happen. They are not responsible for this cultural phenomenon. Consider how many individuals were held to account at Goldman, Sachs and the other Wall Street Firms. No, the money the firms had to pay came from all shareholders, not the mangers who made the decisions and took the fraudulent actions.
IN many ways this is a book about a bigger subject than football. The public needs to see how it is complicit in rewarding poor science, applauding dangerous behavior, and accepting, if not encouraging, corporate America, be it the NFL and its irresponsible spinmeisters, or tobacco, or polluters, etc.. I encourage readers to keep this in mind as they read about the ives of some of our times' athletic heroes.