Football Players Fight for Freedom!

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Football Players Fight for Freedom

With a foreword by Judge Alan Page and a historical introduction by Dr. Sarah K. Fields

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230 pp • 6 x 9, 1 table, 13 halftones • available as an ebook
$35.00 cloth • 978-1-4399-2315-3

An inside look at the struggles Ed Garvey faced in bringing true professionalism to football players

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, giving readers inside look at how the players held the league accountable to play fair. Learning from their mistakes along the way, the NFLPA would succeed in curbing commissioner Pete Rozelle’s disciplinary power, striking down the Rozelle Rule’s absolute control over free agency, and gaining other rights in the process.

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, those leagues work to keep down the players on whose backs they profit.

ED GARVEY (1940-2017) helped organize the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to lead the persistent fight for players’ rights and became the NFLPA’s first executive director in 1971.

CHUCK CASCIO is an award-winning freelance writer, author, and educator whose work has appeared in numerous publications. Visit him online at

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