Former Eagles FB Turner Dead at 46
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Former Eagles fullback Kevin Turner has lost his battle with ALS, passing away at 46 on Thursday.
The eight-year pro was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease in 2010, and spent the rest of his life trying to raise awareness of the disease through the Kevin Turner Foundation.
A message from Turner's father, Raymond, confirmed that the Alabama native had passed.
“Myra and I lost a great son today," the message said. "He will be missed so much. Thanks to everyone so very much for your support and prayers during this journey. He was ready to go to Heaven, excited he said, Love y’all and God Bless.”
Turner was also involved in research that links chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and repetitive head trauma to ALS, and agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord to be examined after death.
"Mr. Turner bravely fought ALS for the past six years, and was an inspiring advocate for research on the connection between repetitive brain trauma, CTE, and ALS first identified by Dr. Ann McKee in 2010," The Concussion Legacy Foundation said in a statement. "The Concussion Legacy Foundation honored Mr. Turner with its 2011 Impact Award alongside Dr. McKee, and Mr. Turner pledged his brain and spinal cord to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. Kevin Turner left a remarkable legacy as a player and advocate, and his legacy will live on through his contribution to research."
"It’s a sad day," Eagles coach Doug Pederson, who played with Turner during his last season in 1999, said. "Even though I only spent one year of my career with Kevin Turner in Philadelphia, it didn’t take but more than a few days to know how special of a person he was, how great of a teammate he was, and how great of a leader he was in the locker room. He was a special person on and off the field. I will always remember the great work his foundation did over the years and I will always remember the way he fought until the very end.”
Turner was originally selected in the third round of the '92 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama by New England.
After three years with the Pats, he signed with the Eagles and spent the rest of his NFL career in Philadelphia. Overall, Turner carried the ball 160 times for 635 yards and a touchdown, and added another 236 receptions for 2,015 yards and 10 touchdowns during his career as a solid dual-threat fullback.
“We lost a special person today in Kevin Turner," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "He was extremely courageous and inspiring throughout his life. I will never forget how excited we were when we signed him in 1995 and how valuable of a player he was leading the way for Ricky Watters, Charlie Garner and Duce Staley.
"But as good of a football player as he was, he was even a better man. His high character, kindness and respectful nature stood out to me the most. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
“There was no one more serious and more prepared than Kevin Turner," Staley, now the Eagles' RBs coach, added. "His professionalism and respect were second to none. He made me a better pro. We lost a good man and a good teammate today. We will all miss him.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen