League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth (Paperback)
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “meticulously documented and endlessly chilling” (The New York Times) exploration of the NFL’s decades-long attempt to deny and cover up mounting evidence connecting football and brain damage.
“A first-rate piece of reporting [that] adds crucial detail, texture, and news to the concussion story, which despite the NFL’s best efforts, isn’t going away.”—Time
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Boston Globe, NPR
“Professional football players do not sustain frequent repetitive blows to the brain on a regular basis.” So concluded the National Football League in a December 2005 scientific paper on concussions in America’s most popular sport. That judgment, implausible even to a casual fan, also contradicted the opinion of a growing cadre of neuroscientists who worked in vain to convince the NFL that it was facing a deadly new scourge: chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a chronic brain disease that was driving an alarming number of players—including some of the all-time greats—to madness.
Everyone knows that football is violent and dangerous. But what the players who built the NFL into a $10 billion industry didn’t know—and what the league sought to shield from them—is that no amount of padding could protect the human brain from the force generated by modern football.
In League of Denial, award-winning ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru expose the public health crisis that emerged from the playing fields and examine how the league used its power and resources to attack independent scientists and elevate its own flawed research—a campaign with echoes of Big Tobacco’s fight to deny the connection between smoking and lung cancer. They chronicle the tragic fates of players like Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who was so disturbed at the time of his death he fantasized about shooting NFL executives, and former San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau, whose diseased brain became the target of a scientific battle between researchers and the NFL.
Based on exclusive interviews, previously undisclosed documents, and private e-mails, League of Denial is the story of what the NFL knew and when it knew it—questions at the heart of a crisis that threatens American football—and of the battle for the sport’s future.
About the Author
Mark Fainaru-Wada an investigative reporter for ESPN. With his colleague Lance Williams, he coauthored the New York Times bestseller Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal That Rocked Professional Sports. He lives in Petaluma, California.
Steve Fainaru is an investigative reporter for ESPN. While covering the Iraq war for The Washington Post, he received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his investigation into the U.S. military’s reliance on private security contractors. He lives in Berkeley, California.
“Meticulously documented and endlessly chilling.”—The New York Times
“The book should come with a warning label for football fans: Watching a game will never be the same after you read it. . . . [Fainaru-Wada and Fainaru] ask tough questions of the NFL without taking their conclu- sions too far.”—NPR
“Engaging and well written . . . an informative, intriguing and sobering book about power and control. I recommend it strongly.”—Nate Jackson, The Washington Post
“Journalistically bruising.”—Peter King
“Clear-eyed and devastating.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“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, The Dallas Morning News