Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Movie Tackles Painful Issue

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Movie Tackles Painful Issue

Article excerpt


The images are jarring in their juxtaposition: a vibrant Kevin Turner, football tucked away, bulldozing opponents on the field; a post-40 Kevin Turner, struggling to insert pegs into a board, a therapist monitoring his progress.

At one time, he was a punishing back for the University of Alabama, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. The dream was his, but shared also by men for whom football serves as the ultimate barometer of all things machismo.

"American Man."

It's the title of a movie debuting tonight at the Sarasota Opera House in conjunction with the Sarasota Film Festival. Shot and produced by filmmaker Jon Frankel, a correspondent for HBO's Real Sports, it profiles Turner and his struggle with ALS.

Like any well-told story, the 75-minute film elicits a variety of emotions, but the overall tenor is one of sadness -- a player who made $8 million in his NFL career now broke, divorced, convinced the multiple concussions and head injuries suffered playing the game having contributed, at least partly, to his current condition.

"But Kevin is not looking for sympathy,'' Frankel said. "Kevin does not seem to be bitter, and at the end of the film, he says repeatedly, 'No, I'd probably do it all over again.'

"Kevin described to me how his goal was to take the screws of his face mask and put them up under the guy's chin. That's what he wanted to do every time.''

In the movie, Turner estimates having suffered at least 20 career blows to his head, the type of hits that can cause short-term memory loss.

He's believed to be the 14th former NFL player diagnosed with ALS since 1960, but without empirical data linking head trauma to the disease, doctors won't know the specific cause until Turner's brain and spinal cord are examined upon his death.

But Dr. Fiona Crawford of Sarasota's The Roskamp Institute said the key may be in multiple head traumas. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.