Big Game.

Position:Book review
 
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***1/2

Big Game

The NFL in Dangerous Times

By Mark Leibovich

Chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, Mark Leibovich is the author of the number-one New York Times best seller This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!--in America's Gilded Capital (2013), about the political culture of Washington, D.C. He received the 2011 National Magazine Award for profile writing.

THE TOPIC: The average value of a National Football League franchise last year was $2.5 billion. But, as even most casual observers are surely aware, all is not well with the league. The NFL has been rocked by domestic-abuse scandals, the murder conviction and suicide of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, and the existential threat of research findings on the long-term effects of concussions. More recently, players' expressions of protest during the playing of the national anthem have divided fans and elicited the ire of Donald Trump, who suggested that maybe those protestors "shouldn't be in the country." Television ratings for games have declined 17 percent in the past few years. Such is the world into which Leibovich immerses himself, with the objective of determining what, if any, future the NFL has in American culture.

Penguin. 400 pages. $28. ISBN: 9780399185427

Boston Globe ****

"What makes [Leibovich's] narrative enlightening and entertaining is his level of access and his perspective as an outsider, which likely helped his entree to owners and others who knew that the author didn't cover the league regularly and was writing for a distant deadline." JOHN POWERS

Christian Science Monitor ****

"Again and again, Leibovich gently and not-so-gently mocks... the billionaire owners in charge as the NFL stumbles through public relations disasters, shameful and deceptive manipulation of scientific findings regarding player safety, and the usual Molotov cocktails involving taxpayer stadium subsidies and, conversely, allowing franchises to abandon any city daring enough to defy demands for said subsidies.... [Leibovich's] interactions are, at once, revealing, funny, and cringe-worthy." ERIKSPANBERG

New York Times ****

"[A] gossipy, insightful and wickedly entertaining journey through the N.F.L. sausage factory.... Reading Big...

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