For five seasons here in Philadelphia, Kevin Turner was a throwback fullback, a battering ram, and a player reporter for us here at Fox.
On Monday came word that you don't want to report, that Turner is suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.
Fox 29 Sports Director Tom Sredenschek talked with Turner on Monday night.
"It's kind of the culture that you're in to be able to play through – you know, I tried to play through anything as long as I didn't think it was, you know, too, too serious," Turner said. "And that's why I finally gave it up after, you know, I got a hit out there. And it wasn't a vicious hit, either. It was just kind of a glancing blow, and both of my arms went numb. I knew right then that I wasn't going to do it anymore."
Turner struggled with spinal column issues and stingers throughout his career and says they've led to his condition.
When he retired in 2000 at the age of 31, doctors said he had the spinal column of a 65-year-old.
The guy in his shoes now, Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver, said he sees a chiropractor three or four times a week.
"Nobody sees your back as normal. I mean, once you come out here and you play football for a certain amount of time, of course you're going to have things that don't look right," Weaver said. "But it's one of those things where, you know, you know what it's about, you know what to expect – I mean, you love the game, so that's why we come out here and play."
According to the Boston Globe, Turner is the 14th player to be diagnosed with ALS since 1960. That's a much higher rate than occurs in most males.
Former Eagle Andre Waters committed suicide in 2006. An examination of his brain tissue revealed brain damage that led to depression.
When Chris Henry was killed after a domestic dispute last December, doctors discovered trauma-induced brain damage.
Sredenschek said Monday night that there's love of the game and there's the reality of the game. The NFL has a growing problem with neck and brain injuries. Consider this, though: The physical nature is what makes the NFL so popular. The league simply has to find better ways to protect its players. Ask yourself this: How many current players are headed for the same fate as Turner? That's a scary question. The NFL can't sweep this under a carpet.
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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