Never Ask "Why"
Football Players' Fight for Freedom in the NFL
Published by: Temple University Press
234 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 1 table, 13 halftones
- ISBN: 9781439923153
- Published: December 2022
When pro football players formed a union to stand up against the NFL for their own interests, they chose lawyer Ed Garvey as their Executive Director. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA), would take on the NFL over player contracts, collective bargaining agreements, and antitrust suits. It lobbied for players’ free agency, contract rights, and impartial arbitration of disciplinary disputes. Garvey navigated strikes, lockouts, scabs, stooges, lies, as well as the sports media complex—to maintain players’ dignity. According to the league, the players were to take what they were given and “never ask why.”
In Never Ask “Why,” journalist Chuck Cascio presents the late Garvey’s rich account of the early years of the NFLPA, taking readers among the players as they held the league accountable to play fair. Learning from their mistakes, the NFLPA would succeed in curbing commissioner Pete Rozelle’s disciplinary power and striking down the Rozelle Rule’s absolute control over free agency.
Garvey tells the intimate stories of how pro football players, rivals on the field, rallied together to stand up for themselves. He worked tirelessly to change a system that exploited players and even controlled the media. In the end, Garvey shows how the NFLPA transformed the state of pro sports leagues today and how, even still, they work to keep down the players on whose backs they profit.