Former Eagles FB Kevin Turner is currently suffering from ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The affliction is slowly robbing him of his ability to use his muscles and eventually will kill him. He can't really write, put on his pants or close a button anymore. It's a cruel disease, one that possibly was caused by repeated hits to the head while playing football.
In fact, former NFL players were 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with ALS than other men in their age group. However, new research shows that former NFL players who have been diagnosed with ALS have often in reality been suffering from the effects of brain trauma that causes ALS-like motor degeneration. The New York Times has a lot more on the science behind this new research if you're interested.
Not surprisingly, Turner supports any efforts to make the NFL safer and while he realizes some fans have complained about the new rules, he doesn't agree with them. He says the NFL is far from become "flag football."
"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."
Kevin Turner's story will certainly be something I keep in mind next time I see a guy hit in the head...
These guys are adults, they know this is a dangerous game and they have the freedom to choose to play it anyway. And in reality, the NFL will never really be safe. By nature it's a violent and dangerous game... but that doesn't mean they shouldn't try.
After the jump, Turner says why he specifically supports the new kickoff rules.
He says that one of his worst concussions came on a kick return.
"One of the biggest concussions I think I had was one where I was on the kickoff return team, setting up the wedge (block) back there for the return on the opening kickoff," Turner recalls.
"I go out there to block, and the next thing I remember, it's almost the end of the first quarter or maybe even the second quarter. I'm asking another player, 'Where are we? In Philly or Green Bay?' And I had been out there playing the whole time."
That wedge block is now forbidden in NCAA football, and Turner thinks that's a good thing. He also says "moving the kickoff to the 35-yard-line will save so many people misery." But the most important rule change, he says, is limiting practices in full pads.
Turner says that for a guy playing his position, there was no such thing as an easy practice.
"There's no way to go through practice and halfway do it playing fullback when you're blocking at full speed," Turner said.
Check out Turner's full story on FoxSports.com