I’ve read a lot of stories about the mental deterioration and psychological anguish that ex-NFL players suffer from the brain injuries they sustained during their careers. And one of the best ones I’ve seen is a recent story about former tackle Kyle Turley by The San Diego Union-Tribune.
In the interview Turley, the father of two toddlers, admits that he has contemplated suicide. He said he understands the state of mind that former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau was in when he fatally shot himself in California just about year ago.
What is particularly disturbing about Turley’s situation is that during his pro career, he only suffered two diagnosed concussions. But there are two caveats about that: He resumed playing shortly after sustaining those concussions, which can cause permanent brain damage, and he believes he actually had many, many more concussions than just those two.
After suffering a concussion in 2003 that left him unconscious, Turley told The Union-Tribune that his condition deteriorated over time. He experienced vertigo and he became very sensitive to light.
Turley said no one in his family had ever “gone crazy” or attempted suicide, yet he was having such thoughts, and that they only stopped when he was taking medication, Depakote.
Turley has a 4-year-old son, and in his Union-Tribune interview he said he wants to make the game of football safer for his son.
The former prom, who is now a country singer, worries about his future.
And in a rather jarring note, Turley said he plans to donate his brain to research, as have other NFL players, to determine if he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, the degenerative brain disease that mimics dementia.
The NFL has launched a 24-hour support line for current and former players in a crisis, and Turley admits that he has called that line in a panic, when he feels on the edge of suicide.