Football And Concussions: An Interview With 'League Of Denial' Author Steve Fainaru

Jun 20, 2014

"This program is an encore and was originally broadcast in November of 2013"

“Iron Mike” Webster was one of the most revered and beloved Pittsburgh Steelers of all time. The Hall of Fame center was a tough, hardworking and disciplined player who gave everything he had to football.

But after retiring from the NFL in 1990, he suffered a severe decline in both physical and mental health. When he died 12 years later at age 50, his body made one of its most significant contributions to the sport, and to the fellow players he loved.

A look at Iron Mike’s brain showed signs of permanent brain damage, presumably from the numerous concussions he endured, and it set off a battle between neuroscientists and the NFL about whether football causes brain damage.

A new book, titled League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, documents the discovery, denial and finally the NFL’s reckoning with the concussion issue. The book was also made into a documentary for PBS Frontline. ESPN investigative reporter Steve Fainaru, wrote the book with his brother Mark Fainaru-Wada, who also works for ESPN.

Fainaru is a former Washington Post reporter and the recipient of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his investigation into the U.S. military’s reliance on private security contractors.

Fainaru was a guest on this show in 2010 to discuss his previous book, Big Boy Rules: America’s Mercenaries Fighting in Iraq, and he spoke at Boise State that same year as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series.