Kevin Turner played fullback for the Patriots and Eagles for eight seasons and was a well-respected member of both teams, winning the Eagles’ Ed Block Courage Award in 1996 after coming back from an injury-plagued 1995 season.
But Turner is now afflicted with an illness that no one can come back from, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the incurable disorder known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. And he says he believes brain damage suffered on the football field caused it.
“Football had something to do with it,” Turner told ESPN.com. “I don’t know to what extent, and I may not ever know. But there are too many people I know that have ALS and played football in similar positions. They seem to be linebackers, fullbacks, strong safeties. Those are big collision guys.”
Recent research has suggested that brain damage suffered in sports may cause ALS, or a disorder with nearly identical symptoms. Turner says now that if he had known what would become of his life, he wouldn’t have played football at all.
“If they would have come to me and said, ‘I’ve seen the future. This is what happens.’ Of course, I would stop playing immediately,” Turner said. “But, as we all know, nobody can see the future.”
What we can see is that the future will surely include other football players suffering from similarly dire health problems.