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Football and head injuries: The Kevin Turner Story - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Football and head injuries: The Kevin Turner Story

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Birmingham, AL -

Kevin Turner is a former Alabama fullback who became a third round pick of the Patriots and played eight years in the NFL with New England and Philadelphia. Our story comes courtesy of CSS.

And his many talents included playing guitar. 

(music up..   "Folks out there wasn't raised in a place like Alabam, wasn't taught to say yes sir, wasn't taught to say yes ma'am")

Kevin Turner wrote the song "American Man" and performed it… until he started losing the use of his fingers.  A diagnosis of a disc problem and surgery on his neck in 2009 eventually led to something much worse in 2010.

Turner: "I got the diagnosis of ALS. When she said those words, I was like, ALS, I've heard of that, but not very familiar with it."

Turner knows all about it now.  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.

Tests on Turner's brain have shown significant damage, especially on the right front and left rear, from what's believed to be repeated blows to the head.

Turner: "Back then we called it, "Getting' dinged," or "Having your bell rung." I couldn't tell you how many times that happened, every day? You know, I was a fullback. I was ready and prepared to take on arthritic knees and hips, I knew my neck and back were going to be painful and at some point maybe my shoulders would give too, but I never thought, especially when I was playing, that it would have the impact on my brain.  So I just… never.. thought that over time I was just.. killing myself out there."

Turner now struggles to raise his arms and has lost virtually all use of his hands.

Turner: "I miss being able to go in the kitchen and being able to make myself a sandwich, or a bowl of cereal or going to the bathroom by myself without having to have help. You know, just putting your pants on in the morning."

Natalie, Daughter age 12: "I like helping him. I don't mind at all. Even though he has really hard times with stuff, he never, ever complains, not once. I've never heard him complain before and he has it harder than most people."

Jennifer Puckett, girlfriend:  "It's a big honor (tearing up) to be depended on and he has so many people in his life who feel the same way.  I value every chance I get to help him eat or help him dress or anything."

Turner is a divorced father of three with a childhood friend, now girlfriend, who visits twice a month from out of state. 

This one-time football star still loves where he's been, if not where he's going.

Turner: "What's special about Alabama, at least to me in a lot of ways is they have this rich tradition and you're able to be a small part in that and have a chance to win championships (leans down, gets hand to scratch ear) I meant to tell you, the most annoying thing (sighs) is having an itch you can't even scratch."

Despite major hurdles turner just doesn't know the meaning of "quit."

Every month or so there's something that gets a little worse and I'm still shocked at it (laughs)

I guess I'm stubborn to it.  I keep thinking it's going to turn around.  and I still do.  pauses.. tears up

From song: "I'm an American man, the latest toy, my daddy's son, I ain't nobody's boy.."

Crane question: "What does the song, American Man mean to you?"

Turner answer: " It's a tough time the last few years on a lot of people, but I'm just proud I'm an American. And I never, ever thought anybody would hear that song."

From song: "I keep a can of Copenhagen in my front pocket, when I get out on that stage, I'm gonna rock it.."   

The song, is just one of several legacies being left by a remarkable man.

 

 

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