As a football player, offensive lineman Kyle Turley was best-known for one incident. When Turley's Saints played the New York Jets at the Superdome in November of 2001, there was a play in which Jets defensive player Damien Robinson was trying to twist the head of Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks by Brooks' facemask after the play was over. When the scrum was broken up, Turley had Robinson's helmet, and threw it across the field. Turley later said that he was merely trying to protect his teammate, but the Saints fined him $25,000 for his trouble.
More than a decade later, Turley is trying to become even more famous in another endeavor -- he's taken the music business on as he once did with Damien Robinson. Turley's self-named band has been on the road for years, and it's a serious endeavor for the former All-Pro.
"Nothing will ever compare to putting an NFL uniform and running out of the tunnel," Turley recently told Yahoo! Sports, "but I think I might get close to it again if we do it with the music."
Turley was better at football than anything else as a kid -- he won a full ride to San Diego State, and the Saints selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 1998 NFL draft. He played five years for the Saints before moving on to the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
Still, music was always on Turley's mind.
"It wasn't until I was 14 that I could finally afford a guitar," he said. "It cost 10 bucks, and I traded a pair of Levi's, and I still have that guitar today."
The location of Turley's first passion actually fueled his second -- when he played for the Saints, he also experienced one of America's great musical meccas firsthand.
"[Being in] New Orleans really solidified music being a huge part of my life," he said. "I was introduced to so much more music there -- it was unbelievable."
As his body wore down, and injuries became a constant reality, Turley thought more and more about music as a primary endeavor.
"If everybody stayed healthy, everyone would still be playing football, because you don't just wake up one day and decide you don't want that lifestyle or those paychecks anymore. I went as long as I could."
Knowing the end was near in 2006, Turley started Gridiron Records with his friend, Tim Pickett. The Kyle Turley Band grew out of that, and Turley also supports the Gridiron Greats fund, which helps retired players in need of medical and financial help. He's also been very outspoken on the subject of concussions in the NFL, addressing a House Judiciary Committee hearing in 2010 as part of a panel entitled, "Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries."
"The benefit of a long career in the NFL -- and now as a touring musician -- is the ability to bring attention to causes that I'm most passionate about," Turley recently said on his website. "I never have and never will keep quiet about issues that need a voice. Some things are just too important."
Turley wrote "Fortune and Pain," which is on his second album, after a friend developed Lou Gehrig's Disease, a condition that also took Turley's grandfather.
It's clear now that as committed and passionate as Turley was about football, he's matched that in his new life.
"If you want to make it in the music industry, you've got to have that 'want-to' deep inside," he said. "You've got to hit the road. From the moment I committed to it, and the conception of the Kyle Turley Band ... where we go with it in the future, I don't know, but I've got a few things to say right now. And I need to put my name on them."
If everything goes right, Turley might even get back in the Superdome one of these days. Next time, he won't be throwing helmets, either.
"I have full aspirations to get back to the stadiums, playing in front of 80,000 people. The Super Bowl -- hopefully, the next Super Bowl the Saints are in -- I could play 'My Soul Bleeds Black and Gold' at halftime."
Sounds like a reach, but this is not a guy you want to doubt -- at the very least, his effort is unquestionable.
"I learned early on that being a quitter was unacceptable. I don't like to live my life that way. If I do something, I'm going to go all out, and I'm going to make it happen. And if I don't make it happen, it wouldn't be because I quit."
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