NFLer: Suicidal thoughts part of life
(CNN) Former NFL offensive tackle Kyle Turley said Thursday that "suicidal and homicidal tendencies" became an inescapable part of his life while trying to treat injuries with pharmaceutical drugs.
Pete Blackburn of Uproxx passed along the troublesome comments Turley made during an appearance on ESPN's Highly Questionable. It's important to note he was speaking on behalf of the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, which advocates medical marijuana over pharmaceuticals.
"Depression and anxiety and light sensitivity got worse, and suicidal and homicidal tendencies became a part of my daily living, in that I couldn't be around a knife in my kitchen without having an urge to stab someone, including my wife and kids," Turley said. "That was highly disturbing to me."
The former member of the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs has spoken out about the use of painkillers in the past. He discussed the issue with Vice Sports in February:
Although he's serving as a voice for the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition cause, his comments about his mental state during his darkest days are nonetheless chilling.
One of the foremost issues the NFL is dealing with right now is concussions—not only trying to reduce the amount of head trauma within the average game, but also how best to treat problems when they do arise to limit the long-term health issues.
Jason M. Breslow of PBS reported in September that the latest figures from researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University showed 87 of 91 deceased NFL players tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease.
The report also showed linemen on both sides of the ball, like Turley, made up 40 percent of those who tested positive. It's a finding that illustrates the danger of smaller, repeated strikes to the head and not just the singular big hits that are often showcased.
Ultimately, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has discussedmaking the game safer, injuries are always going to be part of such a violent sport. Finding the safest way to treat those ailments when they happen, whether it's a concussion or something else, is another layer of the problem.
The competitive nature of players often means they try to get back on the field as quickly as possible rather than wait until they are healthy. A better understanding of the possible long-term impact of that decision might change that mindset in the future.