Kyle Turley experiencing potentially serious brain issues

Former NFL player Kyle Turley, a 1998 first-round pick who developed a reputation for erratic and explosive behavior while playing (which prompted him us to slap him with the nickname “Crazy Joe Davola”), currently is experiencing very real health issues, possibly due to a career of hits to the head.

Turley, according to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, could be in the process of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative neurological condition that may have contributed to the deaths of former NFL players Andre Waters and Justin Strzelczyk.

The strangest aspect of the situation is that Turley doesn’t regard himself as someone who had a problem with concussions.

“I never considered myself a guy that had a lot of head injuries,”
Turley told Silver.  “But the doctors I’ve seen are very concerned about my
past history, and when I look back on some of what I experienced, it
makes me angry.  Guys are going crazy, and my wife and I just had a baby
boy.  I don’t want that to happen to me.”

That said, he had one fairly significant concussion in 2003, which resulted in some fairly bizarre activity after the game, even when judged by Turley’s typical helmet-throwing, threatening-to-kill-Mike-Martz standards.

“I went into the shower, and as the story was told to me later, I was
sitting at my locker, butt-naked, when our owner [Georgia Frontiere]
came in to congratulate us,” Turley said.   “I don’t remember doing this,
but everybody said I stood up and hugged her, totally naked, right
there in the middle of the room.”

And, contrary to Turley’s belief that he didn’t have many head injuries, his words suggest otherwise.  Apart from the concussion that exposed the late Mrs. Frontiere to one of the lesser-known hazards of owning an NFL team, Turley said he experienced “‘dings’ where I’d get cross-eyed and not see straight for a whole
series. … I’d see three guys for every real one, and I’d say,
‘[Expletive] it, I’m gonna hit the guy in the middle.’  That happened to
me maybe two or three times every season.”

Silver’s article looks more broadly at the ongoing problem of players wanting to play despite concussions and doctors not keeping them from playing.  But even if the league ultimately revolutionizes the procedure for assessing concussions and clearing players to return to the field, the reality is that plenty of players will still insist on playing.

Most of these men live in the now, and they simply don’t care about the problems that they’ll possibly have more years into the future than they’ve already lived.  They also regard the willingness to play hurt as a badge of honor and courage.  And they understand that the Wally Pipp principle applies better to football than to the sport in which the term was spawned; football players who are unable to play football eventually lose their jobs in favor of guys who can.

Indeed, if every minor concussion is tracked and measured and monitored, the possibility that the player will be held out of a key game without warning will be a factor in determining whether that player makes the team or the starting lineup — or whether his job goes to a player of perhaps slightly lesser skill but who carries on his shoulder a bell that has not been repeatedly rung.

Bottom line?  Like boxing or MMA or hockey or any other contact sport, playing football involves writing a check that the participant’s body might eventually have to cash.  As we learn more about the long-term risks associated with those activities, the decision to play will still be, in the end, a matter of personal choice.

Though Turley and others possibly didn’t fully understand the risks, it’s hard to believe that many of them would have opted to leave the NFL, or to never have joined it in the first place.

That’s why talk from Turley of a class-action lawsuit against the NFL seems a little off base.  Indeed, I’d be willing to bet an amount equal to Turley’s rookie signing bonus that if he had been fully informed of the long-term risks of playing pro football before he signed that contract, he would responded by saying, “Give me that damn pen before I cram it through your skull.”

23 responses to “Kyle Turley experiencing potentially serious brain issues

  1. First Michael Crabtree, now Kyle Turley…it’s like the theme of PFT today is potentially serious brain issues.

  2. Georgia Frontiere probably thought when hugging Turley naked that that was one of the perks to owning an NFL team.

  3. Turley’s been one of the main backers at helping provide benefits with the Gridiron Greats Assistance fund for retired players with chronic problems because of their football careers. Seems kind of ironic.

  4. Man this sucks, Kyle was one of the coolest Saints players ever, people always remember the helmet throw, but forget why he did. He would always hang with the fans in my endzone before the game and sign anything u put in front of him…I wish him the best.

  5. Quote:
    “(which prompted him to slap him with the nickname “Crazy Joe Davola”)”
    Hooray for proofreading!!! “Prompted him to slap him…”
    Which “him” prompted which “him?”
    English obviously not your Forte.
    FAIL

  6. I seriously doubt this was 100% – or even largely – due to football.
    If that guy hadn’t played football he’d just have been the crazy WalMart Shopping Cart Wrangler you try to avoid.
    Sorry, I know this is insensitive, but Kyle Turley was a nut from the day he entered the league, and I’d bet all his old college and highschool team mates would say he was a nut when they knew him too.

  7. Florio- its sounds as if you are misrepresenting what Turley said, implying that his talk of class action lawsuit is due to his being misinformed about the long-term risks of playing pro football. In fact the quote from the article is “Turley, who believes he was given inadequate medical care during his career by the three teams for which he played, plans to contact a lawyer about the possibility of suing the NFL.”
    The difference is quite marked. You really should read your posts better and make sure you are presenting things in an even manner.

  8. Just this past weekend, Jamal Lewis was briefly knocked senseless. 5 minutes later he was back in the game. I was wondering what happened to the NFL’s “hard stance” on concussions then, but maybe a guy being knocked out cold, even if for a few moments, isn’t that big of a deal.

  9. That erratic type of behavior is very symptomatic of Post Traumatic Brain Injury.
    There’s alot that can be done, although not through the modality of mainstream allopathic medicine.

  10. How cool am I? Trolling a football site looking for grammar errors.
    Amazingly- some people think when you are paid to write- it should be at a professional standard and not like some hurriedly posted, poorly reviewed verbiage.
    Others set the bar lower, go figure…

  11. “I went into the shower, and as the story was told to me later, I was sitting at my locker, butt-naked, when our owner [Georgia Frontiere] came in to congratulate us,” Turley said. “I don’t remember doing this, but everybody said I stood up and hugged her, totally naked, right there in the middle of the room.”
    “Squirell!”
    “I went into the shower, and as the story was told to me later, I was sitting at my locker, butt-naked, when our owner [Georgia Frontiere] came in to congratulate us,” Turley said. “I don’t remember doing this, but everybody said I stood up and hugged her, totally naked, right there in the middle of the room.”

  12. Maybe Kyle Turley and Barret Robbins should counter Birk and others in donating their brains to science. Turley and Robbins should do it immediatly though.

  13. lemme guess…his inital signing bonus was what, half of what Sprint pays you per day?
    even if it were more, nice job betting a theoretical
    and finally, nice post. serious questions involved in this stuff

  14. munkihed25 says:
    September 18, 2009 2:55 PM
    maybe Kyle Turley was trying to throw his other helmet at Georgia Frontiere.
    Dude that was hilarious!
    ClASSIC!!!

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