Kevin Turner, Former NFL and Alabama Player, Dies at Age 46

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2016

FILE - In this April 9, 2013 file photo, former NFL player Kevin Turner, left,  speaks during a news conference in Philadelphia, as former players Dorsey Levens, center, and Bill Bergey listen. The NFL agreed Wednesday, June 25, 2014, to remove a $675 million cap on damages from thousands of concussion-related claims after a federal judge questioned whether there would be enough money to cover as many as 20,000 retired players. The plaintiffs include Kevin Turner, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots and is now battling ALS. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

Eight-year NFL veteran Kevin Turner, 46, died Thursday, per Carol Robinson of  

"Just wanted to tell everyone, Myra and I lost a great son today," wrote Turner's father, Raymond, on Facebook (via Robinson). "He will be missed so much; thank everyone so very much over this journey we have had for all your support, prayers. He was ready to go to heaven, excited he said. Love y'all, and thanks God bless."

According to Robinson, Turner was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2010. In the years since, Turner has worked to raise awareness of the disease and was the subject of a documentary titled, American Man: Kevin Turner's Price for Gridiron Glory.

The link between playing football and neurodegenerative diseases has become one of the biggest issues in sports following the PBS documentary, League of Denial, and feature-film Concussion.

In a 2013 interview with CBS46 News in Atlanta, Turner discussed how he believes playing football played a large part in his ALS diagnosis: "I really believe that had I not played all those years, that I wouldn't have this condition. I was the one telling these parents that it's a safe game to play, 'Look at me. I've been playing since I was five,' and turned out I was wrong. I was just so dead wrong about the hits to the head thing. I feel ignorant now."

The Washington Post also shared Turner's story in February 2015:

After playing four years at Alabama, Turner was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 1992 draft. He spent his first three years in the league in New England before moving to the Philadelphia Eagles, for whom he played until his career ended in 1999.

Derek Boyko of Philadelphia Eagles PR provided a statement from the team:

Turner carried the ball 160 times in the NFL for 635 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 236 passes for 2,015 yards and 10 touchdowns.