Back in 2010, we learned former Eagles fullback Kevin Turner had been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. FoxSports.com's Lisa Horne caught up with Turner at his home in Alabama, where he admits his body's deterioration has been frustrating, though he remains surprisingly upbeat.
The story paints a uneasy portrait of a 42-year-old man who was once a world-class athlete, but now needs help with some everyday tasks. However, it's not without its revelations. Turner discusses the possibility he has CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease that is caused by repeated trauma to the brain over a long period of time -- and that it could even be the root cause of his ALS symptoms.
Turner was a punishing blocker and ball carrier for eight seasons in the NFL, five of those with Philadelphia, but he defends the league's recent rule changes aimed at protecting players from serious, long-term injuries. The new kickoff and defenseless receiver rules may irritate some fans, and coaches may not appreciate new rules limiting contact during practice, but Turner insists these changes are for the best.
"There's no way to go through practice and halfway do it playing fullback when you're blocking at full speed," Turner sayd.
Turner realizes a lot of football fans aren't happy with some rules designed to safeguard the players.
"It's nothing like flag football," Turner said. "They don't get it. I would think they would want to watch their favorite players or teams for years to come. You can hit someone who isn't looking and practically decapitate them. It's entertainment to them.
"There are big-time collisions. Let's not take a step back to the Roman era where we're putting football players up there with gladiators. It's a game. It's entertainment. It's a dream of theirs, like it was of mine, but it's not worth their living that last 20 years of their lives with dementia, Alzheimer's or ALS."
It's hard to argue with his stance. As awareness of the lasting impacts of these collisions increases, we've seen far too many examples of athletes whose quality of life became sub-standard much sooner than it has any right to be. The preeminent example in Philadelphia is former Eagles safety Andre Waters, who killed himself in 2006 -- apparently while suffering from CTE.
Thankfully, Turner doesn't sound like a man who will be taking his own life. The silver lining is he manages to remain positive.
"(I'm) grateful for the Alabama fans that have supported me throughout this ordeal — they've just been incredible to me," Turner says. "I feel blessed. I'm able to walk, talk and breathe."
Go read the story and catch up with a classic Eagles fullback.