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The human side of NFL concussion issues; Kevin Turner - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

The human side of NFL concussion issues; Kevin Turner

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Birmingham, AL -

The 765-million dollar settlement between the NFL and former players over medical benefits was tossed aside by a federal judge this week because she who believes it may not be enough.   Keep in mind, the NFL agreed to the settlement because it believed it would save the league a lot of money. The suit started with former players with head problems repeatedly looking for help in seeing a doctor, only to be turned away by the league.

The number of players in the lawsuit which finally got the NFL's attention has grown to more than 4,000, including former Patriot and Eagle Kevin Turner, who played his college ball at Alabama.  Turner firmly believes repeated head trauma has led to his now having ALS.

"I certainly think it played a huge role in my ALS diagnosis," Turner said.  "I know in the 80's and 90's at least, if you got hit in the head and had to come out as soon as you could focus on a pen or follow the doctor's finger and you could get down in a stance and remember a play, you went back in. Back then we called it, ‘Getting' dinged,' or ‘Having your bell rung.'  If people had said every time you got your bell rung, or you got dinged, had said, ‘You just got a concussion,' maybe it would take on a little different meaning.

But then there's also the element of, players want to play. Turner agrees, " Oh yeah and that's the toughest thing, changing that culture."

The sideline culture has certainly changed in football.  Saints fans saw defensive back Keenan Lewis was concussed during the playoff game at Philadelphia, the later he argued to get back in, but the doctors would not allow it.

Turner remembers a game when he was with the Eagles against the Packers where he may have had his most damaging hit.  He still has the helmet with Packers yellow paint scraped on it.

"The first kickoff, I was on the return team, kind of setting the wedge in the middle and I remember that first kickoff," Turner says. "The next thing I really remember, can rewind in my head was me talking to another player on the team asking him if we were in Philly or Green Bay and how we were doing. But the strange thing about that, the kickoff was the first play of the game and I was asking Bubby about it at the end of the first quarter and I had played the whole quarter and had no recollection of it."

Turners goes on to say he played more in that game.  "At that time he went and got a doctor, they held me out, ran some tests.. about 15-20 minutes I go back in.. played the second half and we won and I never thought another things about it.  But it has certainly weighed heavily on my mind since I've learned about all this and think, how much damage did I do that day?"

Sadly, probably quite a bit, but Turner says he probably got concussed at least 50 times while playing football. That settlement included five million dollars for players like Turner, diagnosed with ALS at an early age.. And ranged to just 25-thousand dollars for an 80-year old former player with dementia.  With more than 20-thousand former players needing to be covered, the judge wants all of them covered properly, when they encounter problems that can trace back to their playing days..

 

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