Kyle Turley speaks at event discussing dangers of concussions in NFL

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 11:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 11:42 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- It's a meeting that almost didn't happen, because one person inside has controversy attached to his name.

It involved a filmmaker known locally for his connection to the Saints bounty scandal, causing LSU Medical School to have safety concerns. But despite a last-minute change of venue to Tulane Medical School, it was the serious issue of concussions in the NFL that drew a crowd.

Two Tulane police officers made sure only medical students got into the seminar.

The medical students did get to see a private screening of a documentary called the Untied States of Football. It's about head injuries in professional football and how it is affecting former players health and lives. The media was not allowed in.

I got to see part of the documentary, but the filmmaker preferred that no media be there until the film is released later in the spring.

While our camera were not allowed in, the main speaker, Kyle Turley, a former Saints player turned country singer, told us why he is here talking to future doctors about his incurable brain condition from football trauma called Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and how it has affected his life and his family.

"Unfortunately, it has affected it in a big way in a way. That is very difficult to deal with," Turley said. "But at the same time it has empowered me to try and resolve these issues on my own and help guys and get more guys to recognize that you're not alone in this. This is something that affects every football player in the National Footbal League at some degree and level, and unless we address this issue, it is going to be continued to be thought of as not really that important.

"It is the literal life and death issue that is out there on the football field every play."

Turley said he is an advocate because he loves football. And Friday, he will have a press conference calling for change.

"A lot of different groups are going to unite, to come together, to demand that youth football be rearranged, because that is where it most definitely needs to be looked at and immediately things need to be changed," he added.

Other former players were also in the seminar speaking out for more protection. One was 1990's fullback Kevin Turner, who now, like former Saints player Steve Gleason, has ALS.

"I went through two or three years of depression, addiction to pain medicine. This is after the first 31 years of my life. I never even smoked a joint or anything, and I'm 35 and in a rehab for pain pills," said Turner about his past. Turner is now 43.

His doctors say his ALS is from head trauma playing football. He says he had to push the NFL, but he now gets disability.

"It seems like common sense, but no doctor or trainer or anybody ever told me (back in the 80's and 90's) that you have you could have long lasting effects of this when you're older," said Turner.

Today the NFL announced here in New Orleans at a press conference that it expects to put independent neurologists on the sidelines next season to help diagnose and treat concussions.

When the news came out during the seminar, Turley said he's been pushing for this for a long time and announced it to medical students who cheered.

Kevin Turner is trying to raise funding for ALS research. For more info, click here.

Kyle Turley will be performing with his band here in New Orleans. For more, click here.

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