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 Americas 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 didnt 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, Americas 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 Tobaccos 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.
In 1998, a mysterious right-handed pitcher emerged from the ashes of the Cold War and helped lead the New York Yankees to a World Championship. His origins and even his age were uncertain. His name was Orlando El Duque Hernandez. He was a fallen hero of Fidel Castro's socialist revolution.
The chronicle of El Duque's triumph is at once a window into the slow death of Cuban socialism and one of the most remarkable sports stories of all time. Once hailed as a paragon of Castro's revolution, the finest pitcher in modern Cuban history was banned from baseball for life for allegedly plotting to defect. Instead of accepting his punishment, he fearlessly fought back, defying the Communist party authorities, vowing to pitch again, and ultimately fleeing his country in the bowels of a thirty-foot fishing boat.
Here, for the first time and in astonishing detail, the secrets behind El Duque's persecution and escape are revealed. Moving from the crumbling streets of post Cold War Havana to the polarized world of exile Miami, from the deadly Florida Straits to the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium, it is a story of cloak-and-dagger adventure, audacious secret plots, the pull of big money, and the historic collision of ideologies.
Present throughout are the larger-than-life characters who converged at this bizarre intersection of baseball and politics: El Duque himself, Fidel Castro, the Miami sports agent Joe Cubas, the late John Cardinal O'Connor along with scouts, smugglers, and the Cuban ballplayers who gave up their lives as tools of socialism to test the free market and chase their major-league dreams.
Reported in the United States and Cuba by two award-winning journalists who became part of the story they were covering, The Duke of Havana is a riveting saga of sports, politics, liberation, and greed.
From the Hardcover edition.
There are tens of thousands of them in Iraq. They work for companies with exotic and ominous-sounding names, like Crescent Security Group, Triple Canopy, and Blackwater Worldwide. They travel in convoys of multicolored pickups fortified with makeshift armor, belt-fed machine guns, frag grenades, and even shoulder-fired missiles. They protect everything from the U.S. ambassador and American generals to shipments of Frappuccino bound for Baghdad’s Green Zone. They kill Iraqis, and Iraqis kill them. And the only law they recognize is Big Boy Rules. From a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter comes a harrowing journey into Iraq’s parallel war. Part MadMax, part Fight Club, it is a world filled with “private security contractors”--the U.S. government’s sanitized name for tens of thousands of modern mercenaries, or mercs, who roam Iraq with impunity, doing jobs that the overstretched and understaffed military can’t or won’t do. They are men like Jon Coté, a sensitive former U.S. army paratrooper and University of Florida fraternity brother who realizes too late that he made a terrible mistake coming back to Iraq. And Paul Reuben, a friendly security company medic who has no formal medical training and lacks basic supplies, like tourniquets. They are part of America’s “other” army--some patriotic, some desperate, some just out for cash or adventure. And some who disappear into the void that is Iraq and are never seen again.Washington Post reporter Steve Fainaru traveled with a group of private security contractors to find out what motivates them to put their lives in danger every day. He joined Jon Coté and the men of Crescent Security Group as they made their way through Iraq--armed to the teeth, dodging not only bombs and insurgents but also their own Iraqi colleagues. Just days after Fainaru left to go home, five men of Crescent Security Group were kidnapped in broad daylight on Iraq’s main highway. How the government and the company responded reveals the dark truths behind the largest private force in the history of American warfare. . . . With 16 pages of photographs