We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
League of Denial Audiobook

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

Regular Price:$31.50
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

"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: 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.

©2013 Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru (P)2013 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (211 )
5 star
 (133)
4 star
 (64)
3 star
 (12)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.6 (197 )
5 star
 (134)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (1)
Story
4.6 (199 )
5 star
 (126)
4 star
 (66)
3 star
 (5)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 03-07-14
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 03-07-14 Member Since 2017

    retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so

    HELPFUL VOTES
    471
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    107
    41
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    42
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. 01-21-14
    S. 01-21-14 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    151
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    364
    112
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding"

    Sometimes 'listening' to non-fiction is very difficult but this performance was excellent and while it is a complex book the story is so well constructed and the performance so strong it is an outstanding listen. Worth every minute - I intend to buy the physical book as well, it is that important.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    s. Pittsburgh, PA, United States 01-25-14
    s. Pittsburgh, PA, United States 01-25-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 10-18-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 10-18-13 Member Since 2012

    Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."

    HELPFUL VOTES
    11220
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    337
    337
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5295
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "How to Kill Friends and Influence People"

    In 2002, Bennet Omalu MD was the medical examiner on call when 'Iron Mike' Webster, a beloved former Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Hall of Famer, died of a heart attack. Omalu is extremely well educated and trained - he has medical licenses in four states, and he has five board certifications. When he performed the autopsy, he noticed that Webster's medical notes said he'd been mentally deteriorating in the years before his death at 50. Omalu, who was working on a degree in Neuropathogy at the time, decided to preserve and examine Webster's brain.

    Omalu grew up and Nigeria and found American Football mystifying. He has "no filters" (Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru's words, not mine); the subtlety of Lady Gaga; and the social grace of Sheldon Cooper of "The Big Bang Theory". Omalu found that Iron Mike had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Omalu's discovery triggered what's been an 11 year odyssey of denial; brains in the closet, marinating in formaldehyde; finger pointing; brains in the back of a Mercedes; a rheumatologist's (who said he was a graduate of SUNY Stony Brook, but actually went to Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara) attempts to discredit the research results of the best neuroscientists in world; brains of well loved players on slides; the NFL's conversion of "The Journal of Neurosurgery" into mouthpiece; and finally - maybe - the NFL's realization that multiple concussions can, and do, cause CTE. Omalu, like Cassandra, has been dismissed. If this were fiction, it would be a Michael Crichton novel written by that classic conspiracy theorist, John Munch (Law and Order: SVU, etc.). Unfortunately, it's very real.

    I fall into the ESPN demographic 'average football fan', but Los Angeles hasn't had a professional team for 18 years, so that's understandable. I go to Monrovia High School Wildcats games, and catch some college and pro games on TV, but I'm no 'student of the game '. I was worried that I wouldn't understand what the Fainarus were talking about in "League of Denial: The NFL Concussions and the Battle for the Truth" (2013), but the football relevant to concussions was so well explained, someone who's never seen a game would understand the issues.

    I had the same issue with this book that I did with Delores Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer-prize winning "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005). "League of Denial" is a great book, but it's not a great Audible book. So many of the 'players' (I mean doctors and scientists here) traded to other teams, I had trouble following who originally had what opinion, and when or why it changed, and who disdained who. I could have used an index, a roster, or - in some cases - a bank statement.

    The Fainarus compare the NFL CTE denial to Big Tobacco, but isn't this worse? No one ever thought Phillip Morris was their friend, or spent hundreds of hours in practice and at games with Lorillard.

    The Fainarus don't come to any conclusions personally, except that credible research makes it clear concussions2 (squared) = CTE = possible living hell, so terrible a player will suicide - but do so in a way that his brain is preserved to help others. What terrible, final grace.

    I have a question, though: I'm a demographic, a 'Soccer Mom.' My daughter plays year round, and at her own request, (after a 13 year old teammate concussed after hitting the AstroTurf-over-cinders-over-cement ground, and sat out a month) wears a helmet. Does that help? Can I do more? The Fainarus make it clear that there's not a true answer to my question yet, even if the helmet manufacturer says so.

    I thought the narration was good, and David H. Lawrence has a great voice for a football book. Or a Michael Connelly or Robert Crais thriller. However, there was a weird editing problem: in a couple of places, there was a sudden audio cutoff that made me think I had an incoming call.

    [If this review helped, please press YES.]

    14 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-16-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Salient Topic in the Sports Safety Discussion"

    The history and controversy presented herein will present one of the greatest struggles of the future of sports medicine. This book conveys the intensity and drama surrounding the concussion issue in so many American sports. It poses important questions and provides riveting history and information around the concussion culture. this is a must-read for anyone involved in the world of contact (collision) sports.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie C 05-17-17
    Stephanie C 05-17-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Blown Away"

    One of the best books I've ever read; I truly cannot recommend it enough. At times I was angry at the injustice of it all. Other times I just felt a deep sadness for the players, most of which I recognized by name. I cannot believe what many of these players went through, in games as well as later in life.

    I don't want to give too much away, but you have corruption, sabotage, betrayal, people switching sides, and at the heart of it all this game and league that many of us love so much. As someone who has been a fan my whole life--I'm talking watching every televised game, playing multiple leagues of Fantasy football for years type of fan--I feel absolutely disgusted by some of the actions the NFL took to deny the problems the game was causing to some of its greatest players. It almost makes my skin crawl.

    I don't know where I go from here. I will never look at the NFL the same. The most apt comparison to their conduct is the concerted effort the Tobacco industry undertook to deny the risks of smoking. They cover that in the book; there may be more than just a general similarity that connects the two...

    The narrator was perfect. Like a great offensive lineman--I guess I can't use that analogy anymore...--he was so good you almost didn't notice him at all. It just worked. He had a firm, medium voice, a mostly even pace, and he knew when to be dramatic without ever being melodramatic.

    Well done all around. I guess I have to go read up on the rules of soccer, or as I'll have to learn to call it: football.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    lorraine bowie, MD, United States 04-04-17
    lorraine bowie, MD, United States 04-04-17 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Eye opener"

    I loved this book because it is my favorite genre--true stories. I was born and raised in The Metroplex--DFW! AND I liked the 'Boyz, but after being dragged to the heart of "Deadskin" land--I became an AVID `BOYZ` fan.
    Unfortunately, after lis6to this book, I am totally turned off by the NFL! I have cancelled The Sunday Ticket and will never willingly watch another game! Thank you for exposing this horrible, greedy and selfish league!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David A. Wood 10-14-16 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting look at the "concussion crisis" of the NFL"

    The people involved in this story are simultaneously fascinating and flawed, both the heroes and the "villains". It does give a football fan concern for the future of this century's American pastime and for the players we cheer every weekend.

    David H. Lawrence XVII gives an excellent performance. His read is engaging and pulls you into the story without making it about himself. A terrific storyteller!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Morash 08-29-16
    Tom Morash 08-29-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "shocking evidence"

    Great read, shocking evidence that the NFL has and continues to deny head injuries and their relation to football play.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffey Detweiler TX 08-24-16
    Jeffey Detweiler TX 08-24-16 Member Since 2014

    Jeff

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    62
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Surgeon General Warning on football helmets"

    Fabulous book! Should be required reading by every parent whose child wants to play football, a super violent sport. Americans need to band together and convince the surgeon general to put a health hazard warning on every football helmet. The American Neurological Association needs to make a stand to protect our brains.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Jack James Humphrey
    London
    11/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great NFL book"

    Great listen this about the concussions within the NFL and the cover up from the NFL

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.