It was back in 2013, about six months after Hurricane Sandy had reeked havoc on the East Coast causing me to be displaced for several months, when I decided to fly to Louisiana to meet with Kyle Turley, the former first round draft pick who played for the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs. Prior to the hurricane I was working toward my doctorate degree in public policy administration and focusing my studies on the theory of rational choice and how it might be applied when individuals in the United States were placed under custodial arrest and let go of their right to remain silent. After the hurricane, I had taken somewhat of a detour, which landed me in Vegas, and found myself immersed in the study of concussion related issues plaguing the NFL.
The reasons I had such a passion to understand the variables involved in the NFL concussion lawsuit included several personal and professional reasons, including my son’s traumatic brain injury which would cause him to have to undergo an MRI when he was just eight days old. Additionally, I was experienced in risk management and liability issues and I was curious how the NFL’s risk management program would respond to the matter. As I read about loopholes in California workers compensation laws, and about how various attorneys had various different opinions, I kept wondering about the insurance programs that were in place, and why nobody seemed to be talking about them. I recall reading how the NFL had sent the lawsuit[s] to their commercial general liability insurance carrier’s and I thought about how interesting it must be to underwrite the program, wondered if the NFL was self insured, thought about catastrophic coverage and about how applicable exclusions might come into play. For example, if the NFL was grossly negligent and punitive damages were assessed who would pay them? The NFL or the insurance companies? or both?
I first heard Kyle Turley speak when he was a guest on the Sirius XM radio program for which I was doing live tweets. I was not employed by Sirius XM radio, but worked independently for one of the hosts to help him bring awareness about the show via social media. The show was broadcast on the Sirius XM Fantasy network and Kyle was scheduled to be interviewed about not only his former NFL career but also a song he was singing, and I am pretty sure he’d written called Final Drive. The proceeds from the song were going to benefit a non-profit organization that Kyle was close to which would help former NFL players with medical expenses that were not being paid for by the NFL. When Kyle spoke he was articulate and passionate. I still remember how I listened intently to his message and how important it seemed that the NFL take concussion related injuries seriously. After hearing Kyle speak on the radio show, I began to follow him on Twitter. I also decided to listen to his music and pay close attention to his message.
When the news hit today about the NFL withdrawing its funding from concussion related studies, I thought of Kyle again. I remembered how he had agreed to meet with me and the interview I did which took place at a honky-tonk down in Louisiana. The bar we had met at was filled with New Orleans Saints and LSU banners, and it was then that I chose to root for LSU as my favorite college football team, because until then I had not ever paid too much attention to college football.
Lots has happened since the time I interviewed Kyle, and as many folks look forward to the release of the movie, Concussion with Wil Smith, I’ll be curious to see how people react to the various findings, what was and was not addressed, and how the league addresses issues pertaining to integrity going forward. I will post more later after I read about the NFL’s withdrawal, absorb the information, and form an opinion. I suppose this is a prelude, if you will, to my write up about the movie and my overall reaction to the NFL’s integrity, lack there of, and possible denial. As I close for now, I keep hearing the song, “I’m standing with the man in the mirror” by Michael Jackson playing over and over again in my head. I’ll be back.