Never Ask "Why": Football Players' Fight for Freedom in the NFL (Hardcover)

Never Ask
By Ed Garvey, Chuck Cascio (Editor), Judge Alan Page (Foreword by), Dr. Sarah K. Fields (Introduction by)
On Our Shelves Now
On hand as of Feb 24 5:44pm


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.

About the Author

Ed Garvey (1940-2017) was a lifelong activist for civil and labor rights. He was an associate at the labor law firm of Lindquist & Vennum in Minneapolis, where he helped organize the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) to lead the persistent fight for players’ rights. He became the NFLPA’s first executive director in 1971, a position he held until 1983 after which he was Deputy Attorney General for Wisconsin. As a private practice lawyer, he engaged in a range of political reform initiatives.  
Chuck Cascio is an award-winning freelance writer, author, and educator whose work has appeared in numerous publications. He received a Virginia Press Association Award for sportswriting, and a Distinguished Teacher Award in the Presidential Scholars Program. He is the author of the novel, The Fire Escape Belongs in Brooklyn, a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award. He lives in the Washington, DC, area with his wife, Faye. Visit him online at

Praise For…

“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

"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."Library Journal

"Published posthumously, Ed Garvey’s autobiographical account of his role, primarily in the 1970s, as executive director of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) details his fight for players’ rights and the mission to end the so-called Rozelle rule restricting free agency. Much has been written about this period, and this book contributes Garvey’s firsthand account and interpretations, with previously unknown conversations, of the negotiations between the union and the NFL.... The book makes evident Garvey's clear disdain for sports journalists for what he saw as distorting the truth and working for the owners. The Mackey v. NFL case (1976) runs throughout much of the book and is an interesting legal study.... Summing Up: Recommended."Choice
Product Details
ISBN: 9781439923153
ISBN-10: 1439923159
Publisher: Temple University Press
Publication Date: January 13th, 2023
Pages: 234
Language: English