Saturday, November 30, 2013

the last book I ever read (League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, excerpt fourteen)

from League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru:

Ted Johnson was a hard-hitting New England Patriots linebacker for 10 years, winning three Super Bowls before his retirement in 2005. When he saw that Andre Waters had been diagnosed with brain damage by Omalu after shooting himself in the head, he decided to tell his own dark story. It was a story both unique to Ted Johnson and now familiar, with echoes of Webster, Hoge, and countless others. Johnson, like Webster, found that he couldn’t function without gulping down huge quantities of stimulants, in his case Adderall. His addiction, depression, and self-loathing frequently confined him to his bed, where he lay in the dark for days. He had migraines and memory loss and felt certain he was losing his mind.

Johnson first told his story in 2006 to the Boston Globe’s Jackie MacMullan, who was about to publish it until Johnson was arrested for assault and battery for pushing his wife into a bookcase. After the incident, Johnson begged MacMullan to delay the piece; she reluctantly agreed, not wanting to take advantage of a man she thought was clearly unstable. What happened next revealed a lot about not only Johnson but also Nowinski, who was intent on exploiting his budding relationship with the New York Times to the fullest. With MacMullan still sitting on her exclusive, she received word that Johnson had given his story to Alan Schwarz and the Times. MacMullan was furious at Johnson, who later told her that Nowinski had advised him to spurn her because the Times would bring “the best bang for the buck.” The betrayal was so audacious that Nowinski’s embarrassed colleagues and Times editors alerted MacMullan, who, after screaming at Nowinski, scrambled to get her own story published.

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