The life of a retired professional football player can be both interesting and difficult. Out are the bright lights, TV cameras, and cheers from the crowd. In are the effects and wear & tear that went with playing at the highest level of a sport regularly involving high-speed collisions to the body and head.
Kyle Turley was the seventh pick in the 1998 NFL draft and played ten seasons of pro football before retiring in 2007. Like a lot of professional sports players, Turley will only be remembered for one play: when he threw his helmet on Monday Night Football.
Turley's retirement has been a struggle against the effects of concussions and the prescription drugs that he was using for pain treatment, a struggle where “thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety were mounting, never going away."
Going into detail, Turley painted a very dark picture:
“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. That was highly disturbing to me.”
Turley also reminisced to Huffington Post about when he was inducted into the San Diego State University Hall of Fame. Turley stepped out onto a balcony for a marijuana smoke break and that “if it weren’t for cannabis I don’t think I would have made it back to my hotel room.”
This story is in no way a rare one when it comes to retired football players, especially regarding prescription drugs. The dependence on these painkillers for retired football players is, in a way, a fair representation for the country.
According to Dr. Lynn Webster, former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, “We have 100 million Americans in chronic pain. We don’t have good, strong and safe therapies. We have a crisis with pain and opioids in this country. We need to find better treatments for athletes and non-athletes, and cannabinoids may by one way.”
Turley quit all prescription drugs and went to marijuana in February 2015
Since then, Turley has noticed dramatic changes in his life and mental makeup:
“I don’t have as bad depression any more, that’s getting better. The cognitive impairment seems to be getting a little bit better. Life is more manageable, I have more energy and feel more alive. I don’t think about killing myself any more."
“At the end of the day, I was losing hope with the synthetic drugs and now I feel better. It’s giving me hope again, helping with depression and anxiety.”
Turley has quickly become a loud voice for marijuana in an area of public life that has few of them.
Passionate about the potential positive effects of marijuana for football players, Turley has recently said, “This [marijuana] could potentially prevent and postpone any damage done from concussions. There is no excuse for us to say we don’t know enough anymore about a plant that has grown from the ground for thousands of years and used as medicine around the world.”
And Turley isn't just a voice, he is someone who is taking action when it comes to marijuana in pro football. Recently, Turley helped form the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, which is “dedicated to the advancement of medical marijuana in the modern age” according to its website.