The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football

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A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year 

NCAA football is big business. Every Saturday millions of people file into massive stadiums or tune in on television as "athlete-students" give everything they've got to make their team a success. Billions of dollars now flow into the game. But what is the true cost? The players have no share in the oceans of money. And once the lights go down, the glitter doesn't shine so brightly. Filled with mind-blowing details of major NCAA football scandals, with stops at Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Missouri, BYU, LSU, Texas A&M and many more, The System explores and exposes the complex, and perhaps broken, machine that churns behind the glamour of college football. 

With a New Afterword
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About the author

JEFF BENEDICT is one of the country’s top investigative reporters. He is a special features contributor for Sports Illustrated and the author of eleven critically acclaimed books, including Pros and Cons and Out of Bounds. His essays and articles have appeared in the New York TimesNewsweek and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.
 
ARMEN KETEYIAN is a CBS News correspondent based in New York and the lead correspondent for 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime. An eleven-time Emmy Award winner, he is widely regarded as one of the finest investigative journalists in the country. He is also the author or coauthor of nine previous books, including Money Players and Raw Recruits.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Anchor
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Published on
Sep 17, 2013
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780385536622
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Sports & Recreation / Business Aspects
Sports & Recreation / Football
Sports & Recreation / Sociology of Sports
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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“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.
The New York Times bestseller about the state of college football: Why we love the game, what is at risk, and the fight to save it—“A fascinating saga” (Booklist).

In search of the sport’s old ideals amid the roaring flood of hypocrisy and greed, bestselling author John U. Bacon embedded himself in four college football programs—Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, and Northwestern—and captured the oldest, biggest, most storied league, the Big Ten, at its tipping point. He sat in as coaches dissected game film, he ate dinner at training tables, and he listened in locker rooms. He talked with tailgating fans and college presidents, and he spent months in the company of the gifted young athletes who play the game.

Fourth and Long reveals intimate scenes behind closed doors, from a team’s angry face-off with their athletic director to a defensive lineman acing his master’s exams in theoretical math. It captures the private moment when coach Urban Meyer earned the devotion of Ohio State’s Buckeyes on their way to a perfect season. It shows Michigan’s athletic department endangering the very traditions that distinguish the college game from all others. And it re-creates the euphoria of the Northwestern Wildcats winning their first bowl game in decades. Most unforgettably, Fourth and Long finds what the national media missed in the ugly aftermath of Penn State’s tragic scandal: the unheralded story of players who joined forces with Coach Bill O’Brien to save the university’s treasured program—and with it, a piece of the game’s soul.

This is the work of a writer in love with an old game—a game he sees at the precipice. Bacon’s deep knowledge of sports history and his sensitivity to the tribal subcultures of the college game power this elegy to a beloved and endangered American institution.
“A confident and substantial book...It has torque and velocity...It makes a sweet sound, like a well-struck golf ball. I found it exhilarating, depressing, tawdry, and moving in almost equal measure. It’s a big American story.” —The New York Times

Based on years of reporting and interviews with more than 250 people from every corner of Tiger Woods’s life—many of whom have never spoken about him on the record before—a sweeping, revelatory, and defining biography of an American icon.

In 2009, Tiger Woods was the most famous athlete on the planet, a transcendent star of almost unfathomable fame and fortune living what appeared to be the perfect life. Married to a Swedish beauty and the father of two young children, he was the winner of fourteen major golf championships and earning more than $100 million annually. But it was all a carefully crafted illusion. As it turned out, Woods had been living a double life for years—one that unraveled in the aftermath of a Thanksgiving-night car crash that exposed his serial infidelity and sent his personal and professional lives over a cliff. Still, the world has always wondered: Who is Tiger Woods, really?

In Tiger Woods, Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, the team behind the New York Times bestseller The System, look deep behind the headlines to produce a richly reported answer to that question. To find out, they conducted hundreds of interviews with people from every facet of Woods’s life—friends, family members, teachers, romantic partners, coaches, business associates, physicians, Tour pros, and members of Woods’s inner circle.

From those interviews, and extensive, carefully sourced research, they have uncovered new, intimate, and surprising details about the man behind the myth. We read an inside account of Tiger’s relationship with his first love, Dina Gravell, and their excruciating breakup at the hands of his parents. We learn that Tiger’s longtime sports agency, International Management Group (IMG), made $50,000 annual payments to Tiger’s father, Earl Woods, as a “talent scout”—years before Tiger was their client. We discover startling new details about Earl, who died in 2006 and to this day lies in an unmarked grave. We come along as Tiger plunges into the Las Vegas and New York nightclub worlds alongside fellow superstars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. We are whisked behind the scenes during the National Enquirer’s globetrotting hunt to expose Tiger’s infidelity, and we get a rare look inside his subsequent sex-addiction treatment at the Pine Grove facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

But the portrait of Woods that emerges in Tiger Woods is far more rewarding than revelations alone. By tracing his life from its origins as the mixed-race son of an attention-seeking father and the original Tiger Mom—who programmed him to be “the chosen one,” tasked with changing not just the game of golf but the world as well—the authors provide a wealth of new insight into the human being trapped inside his parents’ creation. Most of all, we are reminded, time and time again, of Woods’s singular greatness and the exhilaration we felt watching an athletic genius dominate his sport for nearly twenty years.

But at what cost? Benedict and Keteyian provide the answers in an extraordinary biography that is destined to become the defining book about an authentic American legend—and to linger in the minds of readers for years to come.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"This book is gold.”—Peter King
“Intense.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Steve Young is a hero of mine, and his story is a source of inspiration for me. His perseverance, intelligence, and, most of all, grace under pressure NFL-style, make this book a fascinating read. Thanks, Steve, for sharing your story with one of your biggest fans!”—Tom Brady
 “Steve was extraordinary in every facet of life. I’ve never read a football book with more honesty and integrity—it’s typical Steve. What a quarterback! What a man!” —Jim Nantz, CBS Sports
“All football fans know what a tremendously talented and successful quarterback Steve Young was in his NFL career. But what they don’t know about are the challenges and personal obstacles Steve had to overcome to make his dreams come true. This is a most exciting and compelling story.”—Roger Staubach

A stunningly candid look at what it takes to become a super-elite professional quarterback

Steve Young produced some of the most memorable moments in NFL history. But his most impressive victories have been deeply personal ones that were won when no one was watching. His remarkably revealing memoir is the story of a Mormon boy with a 4.0 GPA, a photographic memory, and a severe case of separation anxiety.
   As an eighth-string quarterback at Brigham Young University, it was doubtful that he would ever see any playing time. But Young became an All-American, finished second in the Heisman voting, and was the top draft choice out of college. Then, after signing the largest contract in sports history, anxiety nearly drove him to walk away from football completely.
   In short, Young’s quest in life was always about grit. Now, he shares the experience of being inside his helmet while he faces down his toughest adversaries, both on and off the field.
Out of Bounds: Inside the NBA's Culture of Rape, Violence, and Crime is a searing indictment of professional basketball players who live in a world where criminal laws and social norms don't exist, a world where they are given license to act above the law.

On the court, they dazzle us with their spectacular physical feats. They generate millions of dollars of revenue for the NBA and their teams. They inspire adulation. But underneath all the glitz, the money, and alley-oops is a seamy underbelly, a rash of lawlessness that is gripping the NBA.

Based on a first-of-its-kind investigation into the criminal histories of 177 NBA players from the 2001–2002 season, Out of Bounds shows that an alarming four out of every ten NBA players have a police record involving a serious crime. They are All-Stars and they are journeymen, involved in crimes ranging from armed robbery to domestic violence to gun possession to rape.

Out of Bounds takes a hard look at shocking cases, with graphic accounts of physical and sexual violence and other outrageous conduct by players. In all, more than 250 people are named, including many prominent NBA players. It exposes the environment and culture that encourages such criminal behavior. It also explains the unique challenges these cases pose for law-enforcement agencies and prosecutors. And Out of Bounds takes readers inside the hidden yet critically vital role that lawyers, agents, and fame play in insulating criminally accused players from accountability.

Author Jeff Benedict, an expert on athletes and crime, draws his conclusions from exhaustive research. In addition to his criminal-background checks, the author retrieved documents from law-enforcement agencies, courts, and private attorneys. He conducted more than 400 interviews with police officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, players, agents, victims, witnesses, and coaches. What emerges is a disturbing and appalling picture of men who live above the law.

A seminal and important work, Out of Bounds will forever change how we look at the NBA and its stars' lives of excess and privilege.

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