Football Players' Fight for Freedom in the NFLEd Garvey; Edited by Chuck Cascio
With a foreword by Judge Alan Page and a historical introduction by Dr. Sarah K. Fields
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.
"This is a very important and easy-to-read work that will shed light on the many previously misrepresented accounts given by the owners and commissioner-controlled public communication. It has the potential to change the business world."
“Ed Garvey was a man of vision and unafraid to be the first to challenge the league with a relentless and aggressive approach to ensuring our players’ rights. When I became executive director (of the NFLPA), Ed was one of the only persons who had served in this role, and his wisdom, brilliance, and humor were exactly the counsel I needed. Even today, he continues to be a guiding light for our union. Never Ask ‘Why’ is a firsthand testament to why union leaders should never have to ask why the mission is so important, and why the role of unions, even one as small as an NFL players union, remains critical for working people.”
—DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association