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: A chronic brain disease that was driving an alarming number of players - including some of the all-time greats - to madness.
League of Denial reveals how the NFL, over a period of nearly two decades, sought to cover up and deny mounting evidence of the connection between football and brain damage.
Comprehensively, and for the first time, award-winning ESPN investigative reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru tell the story of a public health crisis that emerged from the playing fields of our 21st century pastime. Everyone knew 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; that the very essence of the game could be exposing these players to brain damage.
In a fast-paced narrative that moves between the NFL trenches, America's research labs and the boardrooms where the NFL went to war against science, League of Denial examines 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. It chronicles 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 Chargers great Junior Seau, whose diseased brain became the target of an unseemly scientific battle between researchers and the NFL. Based on exclusive interviews, previously undisclosed documents and private emails, this is the story of what the NFL knew and when it knew it - questions at the heart of crisis that threatens football, from the highest levels all the way down to Pop Warner.
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By David P. McGivern on 07-03-14
Overall, well worth the credit
I approached this book a bit different ( more knowledgeable) than most history books I order - that of being a trial lawyer for 30 years ( personal injury) in which cause of a medical condition ( including dementia-like conditions as causally linked to head trauma) was almost always the issue. It came as no surprise, therefore, to listen that CTE as linked to NFL play was hotly debated. BUT - although I did like the book; although the narration was excellent; and the authors did a very very good job in describing the players for us, their careers and the downturn some of them faced post NFL - their bias was a bit too pronounced. Not a lot, but not insignificant either. They implied throughout that those in favor of linking CTE to football were the good doctors, those which did not were the bad doctors. Listening with " a lawyers ear" ( and I acted for people against insurance companies throughout my career) I thought it was not as clear cut as the authors would have us believe, especially as the majority of NFL players do not develop these symptoms. I also agree with the first reviewer that it was difficult to keep track of which doctor, which opinion. That is not to say, however, that I did not like the audiobook. I did. It is worth the credit.. I found it very interesting, all parts, the whole discusson, especially, to repeat myself, when the player's lives were discussed. I will follow up and research further this topic CTE and the NFL ( starting with the show that " Frontline" did on the book, available via YouTube), which for me is a good sign the book is worth reading.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
By s. on 25-01-14
Fascinating and engaging look at lives sacrificed
What made the experience of listening to League of Denial the most enjoyable?
Fascinating journalistic inquiry into role of concussions and culpability of NFL. Starts with Pittsburgh Steeler's center Mike Webster in early 80s and brings us up to current day [$345 million settlement was announced as this book was being published so discussion around that is included, too]. Maybe it's because I'm from Pittsburgh, but knowing many of the professional football players they documented in this book--as well as the many Pittsburgh places and people-- made it a quick read.
Any additional comments?
Not 100% unbiased. Focus is solely on head trauma as initial indicator of later chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Authors don't really ask any of the number of neurosurgeons and neuropathologists they interviewed about role of drug abuse like steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and/or alcohol abuse on prevalence of or likelihood for CTE--but maybe that's a different book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful