Next month, on Dec. 25, “Concussion” will be unleashed on American movie-goers. The film, which stars Will Smith, explores the link between football and brain damage.
It’ll be interesting to see how teams, players – and, most importantly, fans – respond.
“It’s going to be interesting for sure,” former NFL offensive lineman Kyle Turley said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Hopefully people will give it the chance. It’s around the holidays. People got the time off, and hopefully the football fans out there – if they’re truly fans – they’ll go to find out the history of this game and understand why we are where we are today and hopefully how we can fix it.”
Sadly, Turley, like many former players, has experienced suicidal thoughts since retiring in 2007. He has also battled depression and anxiety.
“It’s a dangerous sport,” Turley said. “We understood that going into it. We didn’t understand it in its entirety, though, unfortunately. We understood it orthopedically and what it was going do to our joints and knees and shoulders, elbows, fingers, toes, etc. But we ignored the most important injury that this sport creates, and that’s our brain injury that we are dealing with at this time. It’s not something that is unique to Dave Duerson or Andre Waters, who committed suicide a long time ago. We’ve since had a number of players who are fresh out of the league, some college players, what we saw with Ohio State – this is an ongoing dilemma that we have to face. The sport of football has consequences. The most important one that we need to pay attention to is the consequence to our brain and what we’re doing to it.
“There are things that can be done protocol-wise to help mend this issue and really fight and combat against it, just like any other injury,” Turley continued. “When you’re injured, you go and try to address that injury to get it back to being as good as it can. It’s never going to be the same. But unfortunately, we’ve chosen to ignore our most important injury and that has caused a great deal of damage . . . to our (football) brothers. Even though some might ignore it or try to say they don’t have it, it’s there. It’s very visible, in fact, in a basic MRI scan. Each one of us is made up chemically different based on our genetics, but this injury plays on areas of the brain that are highly important to us to pay attention to. These things that we just kind of pawn off as just getting old and whatnot – we’re facing these things at quite young ages.”
Turley cited recent scientific research saying that medicinal marijuana could be effective in treating players with concussions and other head injuries. Still, he feels the sport needs to focus more on prevention than treatment.
“That’s the unfortunate thought process that’s going on,” Turley said. “We are not addressing this and how we can fix this. We are continuing to just count concussions and try to lessen them. This is an inevitably in our sport. You cannot play football without obtaining a head injury. So what do we do about that? There’s a myriad of things we’re developing outside of the NFL world that are helping this issue in a big way with cryotherapy and oxygen therapies. The NFL has the amount of money to be able to support programs and develop technologies to help this injury. Right now, it’s being piecemealed together by individuals out there who don’t have funding that the NFL has. We are not addressing this injury; we are continuing to just count this injury – and that’s unfortunate.”