Former NFL running back and ESPN analyst Merril Hoge has penned a book where he promises to present The Other Side of the concussion and CTE conversation. Take everything you’ve heard from scientists, the medical community, and former players and throw it in the garbage can because Hoge, who won a $1.55 million lawsuit in 2000 against a doctor for not forewarning him about the dangers of concussions, will set you straight in Brainwashed: The Bad Science Behind CTE and the Plot to Destroy Football.
There is a very specific market for this content. It’s the group that reads Hoge’s accompanying op-ed/sales pitch and nods along, happy that someone is “asking the questions” and hitting the oh-so-familiar anti-science and anti-media notes. It’s not surprising that there are consumers to be targeted. What is a bit surprising is the amount of people willing to go on the record trumpeting the merits of such a book.
“Brainwashed is a must-read for any parent who has a young kid who wants to play football or is playing football already. Having two young boys who are already talking about playing football, we are always trying to gain knowledge and educate ourselves on the head issues involving football. Merril really opened our eyes to the truth of head injuries and CTE.
As a professional football player, combined with my wife’s medical background as a physician assistant, we realize there is still so much unknown in the realm of head injuries and concussions. We both feel more educated after reading Merril’s book.”
— Ben Roethlisberger and Ashley Roethlisberger
“Brainwashed turns discussions [about CTE and concussions] upside down and gives them a good hard shake. A very interesting read.”
— Cris Collinsworth
“Merril Hoge has written an important book regarding the issues of concussions in sports, with particular emphasis on football. Whatever your position on the subject of CTE may be, you should read this book. It contains information every parent and athlete should carefully review.”
— Bill Polian
“If you are a parent grappling with whether or not you should allow your child to play youth football, I urge you to read Brainwashed. Thank you, Merril, for presenting us with perspective and taking to task the people who have owned the narrative of CTE. They have played on our fears, but with Brainwashed, we are armed with comprehensive and compelling arguments for why diet and lifestyle are as big a part of the equation as playing a contact sport.
As one of the first little girls to ever play youth football, I agree with Merril that the sport’s positives greatly outweigh the negatives. The strength I gained from just stepping out on that field helped pave the way for my future. Perhaps it will for your child as well.”
— Suzy Kolber
“Reading Brainwashed was an eye-opening experience. It exposes the hidden agendas at play and bad science at work. We are thankful to Dr. Cummings and Merril for their research.”
— Trent Dilfer and Cassandra Dilfer
“In a climate where misinformation has led to misunderstanding, the game of football has come under attack. Through careful analysis, Merril Hoge has emerged as a strong defender of this great game that has given so much to so many.”
— Solomon Wilcots
“My wife and I have discussed the articles on head trauma many times. It seemed to us that the press had jumped the gun on the subject of head trauma and that the reported science on the subject did not follow the scientific method. Because we love football, we yearned for an authentic explanation. Merril Hoge and Dr. Peter Cummings have provided that in Brainwashed.”
— Bruce Arians
“Merril does a fantastic job of exposing the biased science and half-truths that capture the headlines and dominate the media in regard to CTE. Brainwashed is a must-read if you want the real story and unbiased science behind CTE.”
— Mark Schlereth
Take careful note of how many of these testimonials come from people whose livelihood depends on either not understanding or, more charitably, remaining agnostic about the overwhelming problem facing the NFL now and clouding its future.
There’s a gulf between the praise that takes direct aim at the media narrative and so-called junk scientists and the praise cloaked in the safe blanket of “interesting” and “insightful.” But they both have the same end: elevating Hoge’s fringe position to an equal footing with the mainstream ideas surrounding concussions and CTE.
Being “interesting” and wrong has some merit in discussing World Series lineups or a fourth-down strategy. The consequences for those discussions, however, pale in comparison to the real-world consequences for those who take their medical advice from the uninformed, or parents who trust this text over their own physicians.
Happy reading, everyone.