I recently had the pleasure of chatting with former Chief and musician Kyle Turley. Kyle played for the Chiefs during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. His NFL career also included earlier stints with the Saints and Rams. Since leaving football, Kyle has been extremely active with research on the effects of head trauma in NFL players. He has testified on the matter in front of a congressional committee and has even gone so far as to donate his brain to the Boston School of Medicine. Kyle is also launching a music career and is currently living in Nashville. We talked about all of that as well as Kyle’s time in Kansas City, in this AA exclusive interview.
Part 1 of the interview deals with Kyle’s thoughts on head trauma and the NFL. Enjoy!
The first thing I wanted to ask you about was your decision to donate your brain to researchers at Boston University School of Medicine for their studies on head trauma.
What led you to this decision?
Well a lot of guys have been suffering for a long time because there has been a lack of research and a lack of attention to head trauma injuries that have occurred by playing football and other sports and you know, head trauma in general. There’s some doctors out there on the cusp of some great breakthroughs and I want to be a part of that. I’ve suffered some issues with my feelings with my head injuries from football and its been difficult for me to deal with certain things and it has caused me to have take different medications and all kinds of other things that I don’t want my son to have to do. If I can donate my brain to this situation, this cause, I’m helping my boy out. I have a 1-year-old child and I want him to be able to grow up and at least have a chance, you know, not be facing these things that I’ve been facing and a lot of guys who have played the game have been facing. They’ve lost a lot.
On April 21st, the NY Times reported that the Boston University School of Medicine accepted a donation of 1 million dollars from the NFL. Coupled with that, the NFL recently appointed 2 new co-chairman to its committee on head trauma. These doctors were grilled by a House Judiciary Committee in New York last week and couldn’t even offer opinions on new helmet technologies.
Do you feel the NFL is taking this problem seriously?
No. They’ve been, as Terry Bradshaw put it very bluntly on Fox Sports in a game that he was calling this last season the NFL has been notoriously reactive instead of proactive. I sat in front of a congressional hearing not too long ago where the doctor, the head doctor for the NFL basically denied any involvement that football had in relation to chronic brain injury and the ailments that follow such a thing. Guys that are sitting in hospitals and care centers are dealing with these injuries at years of age that they shouldn’t have to deal with it in. To have that kind of mindset and that’s your head doctor, just showed me right there, I mean this was just this year, the way they’ve been dealing with this matter the entire time and why so many guys have gone without being approved for disability and having the ability to get treatment. Guys have died, guys that were great players in this game, you know Andre Waters and Justin Strelzyk and a few other guys that have had the same, I mean, Mike Websterhad the same brain trauma as Justin Strelzyk and Andre Waters and these others. The long-term effects from playing the game of football. There’s no question that there’s a direct relationship. Chris Benoit had those same issues and the results in his autopsy and his brain.
To deny that this evidence exists and deny that there is any relation to these issues from football was offensive and shows exactly the NFL’s stance on the matter. I mean, and they’ve only given 1 million dollars to the institute, that institute has been pioneering research for a long time on these issues and a million dollars is only going to go so far. If they want to make a dent in this thing the NFL’s going to have to commit some serious dollars to this research so that they can come up with solutions and not just play this game. It’s a game, it’s all just a game to them but after we’re done playing they quickly was their hands of us and not call it a game. When we call it a game they call it a business and when we call it a business they call it a game. It’s just that way man. It’s been that way since day 1.