New York Times bestselling author Kostya Kennedy sets this captivating, character-rich story against the backdrop of one of the most pressing questions in sports: Should we let our sons play football? At the high end of America's most popular game is the glittering NFL, a fan-stoked money machine and also an opaque enterprise under scrutiny for the physical dangers imposed on its players. Then there's high school football, unrivaled for the crucial life lessons it imparts-discipline, leadership, cooperation, humility, perseverance-yet also a brain-rattling, bone-breaking game whose consequences are at best misunderstood, and, at the very worst, deadly. What is the parent of a young athlete to make of that? The New Rochelle High School team in suburban New York is like many across the country: a source of civic pride, a manhood workshop for a revered coach and an emotional proving ground for boys of widely different backgrounds. In the fall of 2014, New Rochelle's season unfolded alongside watershed NFL head injury revelations and domestic abuse cases (remember Ray Rice?), as well as fatalities on nearby fields. The dramatic story of that season, for players, parents and coaches, underscores fundamental questions. Are football's inherent risks so great that the sport may not survive as we know it? Or are those risks worth the rewards that the game continues to bestow, and that can stay with a young man for a lifetime?
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