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League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,918 ratings  ·  485 reviews
“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 convi
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Hardcover, 399 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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 ·  3,918 ratings  ·  485 reviews


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David
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody sucks. Everybody in this book just sucks. The NFL sucks. The NFL got stuck in their little damn castle, deny-deny-deny, and even when all their own doctors told them that some of their players had severe brain damage, and they finally loosen up their tight-ass wallets to give some money to the families, even then just deny deny nope no concussion problem in our league deny deny yep we are funding a helmet designed to reduce concussions (which every not-employed-by-the-NFL scientist say ...more
Kirk
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm going to start with an anecdote that isn't in this book. Last year my local MLB team, the Oakland A's, drafted Kyler Murray, a two-sport college star. It was a risk, because his other sport was (American) football, he was sure to also be drafted by the NFL, and if he chose the latter, the A's would get nothing for their trouble. The rare college athlete to be in this position usually chooses football, for one obvious reason: big money, right away. In baseball, you first endure a few seasons ...more
Chris
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-science
Originally published here.

So here goes: my favorite sport is barbaric; it is destroying its players brains; Its prime pro league is doing everything it can to champion wealth above health; it may not be fixable.

The crux of League of Denial is that an increasing amount of dead football players appear to have brains riddled with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. An unfortunate amount of those deaths were self inflicted or premature, due to the disease. Worse, it
...more
Amanda
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Football fans, parents of children who want to play football and other contact sports
Unputdownable. I know that's not really a word, but that's what it is.

My boyfriend asked me to pick this up for him when I headed to the bookstore the other night, and I obliged. However, he reads one book at the time, while I am more likely to read a minimum of five, and he was still working on something else. Honestly, I didn't think the book would interest me. I'm not a football fan. I wasn't raised in an athletic household. He is a rabid fan, and I've just figured I might as well learn a few
...more
Bro_Pair أعرف
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book is terrific, and, surprisingly, scarier than the much-acclaimed PBS "Frontline" documentary the authors also made. Why scarier? Well, to be frank -- the doctors who come off as heroic in the documentary are a little more....human, here, for better or worse. I hate to be cynical - but the possibility that things are a little more complicated than a David versus Goliath story compels me. The NFL's money taints everything, including even the ostensible research of CTE - the one million dol ...more
Liesl
Oct 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, non-fiction, sports
I don't know if I can view or enjoy football to the same extent after finishing this book. I was already aware of the link that exists between this sport and brain damage, but reading in detail about how these players deteriorated so rapidly into madness was eye-opening and heartbreaking. Just about everyone involved in this ongoing investigation is awful. The doctors and scientists are doing valuable work, but are fractured over what amounts to petty grievances instead of forming a powerful uni ...more
Kerry
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible reporting about one of the biggest issues in sports today -- head trauma and concussions. The authors, both investigative reporters for ESPN, put together a comprehensive, compelling and shocking narrative on the NFL's long denial that concussions suffered on the playing field can lead to chronic brain disease that has resulted in dementia and sometimes suicide by former professional football players. As recently as 2005, the NFL concluded in a scientific paper, "Professional football ...more
Michael
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
"If only 10 percent of mothers in America begin to conceive of football as dangerous, that is the end of football."

I do not get as passionate about sports as I used to. I still enjoy watching them, still feel a rush whenever the Giants or Yankees do something good. But that enthusiasm has changed over time. As I've gotten older, I've begun to feel a bit strange spending so much time and effort personally investing myself in the exploits of other people, particularly multimillionaires. I have a l
...more
Taylor
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Football fans, science geeks
Playing football is hurting people. That's hard for me to say, as a football fan, but it's hurting people, and there's undeniable truth that that is so.

Bennet Omalu, the subject of the recent Will Smith movie Concussion, recently compared football to cigarettes, and that comparison is apt for so many reasons, not the least of which is the industry-funded cover-up about the truth of just how dangerous they are.

I would like to think that we are very near the tipping point in the connection between
...more
Misha
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-bingo-2015
I couldn't put this book down. Wonderfully written.
Mr. Stoner
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So I have read a review or two about this book after reading this book, and it really worries me because, currently, there is two styles of football being played around the country, old school (use the head and suck it up) and new school (take the head away and report concussions). While this exists, the old school players will continue to play "hard" and receive praise, but the new school players will receive praise for tackling the "new" way, but still be told to suck it up! Now what everyone ...more
David
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fairly explosive investigation of the NFL’s concussion crisis, League of Denial is comprehensive and well-researched exposé of a problem that the NFL knew about and tried to cover up.

Football is a violent sport, full of thousands on “mini-collisions” and is stands to reason that this would have an effect on the men who played. There is the heart-breaking tale of Mike Webster, Steelers Hall of Fame Center who, after enduring a career of blows to the head, had a completely altered personality an
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Jennifer
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Football has always been a matter of complete indifference to me, until 3 years ago when my 9 year old son said he wanted to play. For the first time, I started paying a little attention, and what I began hearing about concussions concerned me. But we signed him up. At the first parents' meeting with the coaches, all of my worries were assuaged. They assured us that they had received all of the latest information and training regarding concussions DIRECTLY from the NFL, and that there was absolu ...more
Liz
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think I would consider myself a football fan, but I can enjoy the social aspect of it (going to games in college, watching games at a bar with friends, Super Bowl parties, etc). I can appreciate how important football is to others - it’s truly it’s own world, culture, and escape for some people.

Overall, I wasn’t shocked by the recent research findings or the effects of CTE on the players and their families. However, I was appalled by how much the NFL has covered it up over the years. Al
...more
Amanda
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a hockey fan who began to get curious about CTE when a number of guys began committing suicide or experiencing nasty side effects from concussions. That drove me to be interested in my alma mater BU's CTE program. Which then drove me to this book. Very educational, very eye-opening, and very, very sad. I hope that things can progress where these types of injuries become diminished in the game. Until then .. is it really worth it?

For anyone interested in the subject, you'll see that BU's lat
...more
Scarlett Sims
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, you probably don't need more reasons to dislike the NFL, but here is a history of the league's issues with concussions and brain damage and the effect it has had on former players. The authors draw parallels between the NFL and tobacco companies who knew how dangerous their product was and yet continued to fund studies that discredited the opposition while supporting their own position.

From reading the book, I would say the evidence is pretty damning, aside from one thing, which is that ther
...more
Mac McCormick III
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that was hard to put down. It also hit like a sledgehammer. It clearly shows that the National Football League didn't just ignore a problem that caused deaths in retired players, it chose to ignore that problem. Furthermore, the NFL didn't just deny that the problem existed, it campaigned against those that tried to tell it and the football community that the problem existed.

League of Denial is well written and seems to be well researched. It would be easy to write it off saying t
...more
Greg Messel
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
"League of Denial" traces the history of the battle over head injuries being suffered by NFL football players. It actually is impacting all football players. It has become a battle between scientists and those in the league who are denying the seriousness of the problem. It's a clear chronicling of the slow realization that something is going very wrong with many older football players who are now suffering dementia, personality changes and constant pain.
Two ESPN investigative reporters take us
...more
Patricia
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A quote from p. 318: "With former NFL stars shooting themselves in the chest to spare their brains and thousands of players suing the league...." The authors tackle the history of the discovery of the relationship between chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the concussions and repeated hits that football players experience. This book does an excellent and fact-supported job of explaining the price that football players may pay for their devotion to the sport. I found the story infuriating, poig ...more
Alexandra
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I felt more about this book than I expected. Maybe it was living in Madison, a football town, a college town, while I read it. Maybe it was just that the evidence these days seems to mount with no end. Either way, this book made me feel so much. I felt for the players, broken and sad but hopeful and empowered by the game that hurt them. I felt for their families. I felt for the doctors, who feel powerless to stop it. At this point, I don't know how the NFL thinks it's doing enough, but if you lo ...more
Marco G
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh my God this was such an excellent book. I say that as a fan of the NFL but you don't need to be a fan to really enjoy this wonderful work. It's about how the NFL tried to cover up the connection between concussions and brain damage throughout the 90s and 2000's. It centers around Mike Webster, possibly the greatest center to ever play the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and many other players whose brains or sought after to study once they died. It's epic in it's scope but incredibly enjoya ...more
Nile Schuett
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was one of the best ones I have read in a long time. It gives the people reading an inside look into what it was like discovering what football does to the brain. The author tells the true story of what happens to football players of all ages after they're done playing the game. The story mainly talks about Mike Webster. A Hall of Fame football player that ended up going insane and killing himself. Bennet Omalu was the first man to perform the autopsy on Mike. What he ended u ...more
Caleb Chumley
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kiwi28
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first ever audiobook has held a high standard. A very interesting and detailed listen.
Lake
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
this book is mainly about the NFL Comishiner, and these two reporters in an interview stile of book. The NFL is a past-time of great memories and sad parts for ever fan. The reason this book is so amazing it is a real thing, these player and especially if your a line men because they just bash their heads into each other every play. Players wake up with CTE and don't remember their kids because they played for so long. The begining of the story starts off as Terry Bradshaw a legendary Steelers q ...more
Preston Smith
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru is such a great book that you don’t have to be an avid football fan to appreciate it. I was blown away by the information provided on topics ranging from the first case of brain damage to be associated with playing football to the NFL’s denial of the facts. I was impressed and worried by the gritty stories of the men who played the game both knowingly and unknowingly, in spite of broken bones, bulging discs, and even multiple concussions th ...more
Andrew
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wada and Fainaru's League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is an essential read for anyone who cares about football in America or is interested in the intersection of sport and health. Much of the NFL’s “concussion” debate has been covered in the mainstream press, but League of Denial fills in so many of the details. Reading League of Denial provides a much richer context to discuss the issue, understand the NFL’s obfuscation of the science and appreciate the negligence N ...more
Paul
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book will make you hate the National Football League, and possibly football itself, forever. It relates the complicity of the NFL in denying and resisting the fact that football causes serious concussions in the huge majority of its players, causing many of them to die of depression, dementia, ALS, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) decades before they would have if they hadn't played football.

Of the 62 brains of deceased NFL players donated to a brain bank, 59 of them had CTE. This
...more
Walt
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
The real inside story of how the NFL is carefully hiding the seriousness of brain injuries. The details of some of the player's physical problems are really scary.
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