I recently traveled to Sarasota, Florida to attend the world premiere screening of “American Man”, a film directed by HBO’s Real Sports contributor Jon Frankel at the Sarasota Film Festival. The film is a documentary of Kevin Turner a former star football player at the University of Alabama and fullback with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. For those who don’t know of Kevin, he is a hardnosed former player who was eventually diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The significance of the film is Kevin gave Jon unlimited access to film him over an extended period of time allowing the viewer an opportunity follow his journey with the disease.
I knew of Kevin’s reputation as a player and had seen him play back in the 90’s but we had never met face to face until the evening of the screening. Upon meeting the 42 year old Turner I could tell immediately that he was every bit a football player. When I say “football player” I mean one of those guys who really loved playing the game! As I watched “American Man” and followed Turner’s journey my heart ached to see the struggles of a player who gave his all on the football field to now having to deal with the symptoms of a fatal disease. Like this and other neurological issues that affect many former players it is widely suspected that Kevin’s disease has been linked to the many concussions he sustained playing football.
During a question and answer session I took part in at the conclusion of the film, I told the audience that I found “American Man” very difficult to watch. But while I say that, “American Man” is the truth for Kevin Turner and others like former Raider fullback Steve Smith another player with ALS. I came away from the screening with a feeling that the film should be required viewing for every football player on every level and for every parent who allows their child to play football. As much as I feel the film should be must viewing I know that there will be some who will refuse to watch and will want blame Frankel, Turner or even Steve Smith for trying to disrupt or change the game of football in some way.
I was actually saddened to watch “American Man” knowing that to see the casualties of the game not only affect the players but the families that never played a down of football.
I would like to thank all the people I’ve come in contact with either in person or by way of the Internet over the past 2 months who have encouraged, begged or cheered me on to consider running for Congress later this year. To have folks from all walks of life (Young People and Old, Blacks, Whites, Latino, Asian, Republicans, Democrats, Independent and even Tea Party Supporters) give me their unwavering support was heartwarming and humbling. With so much encouragement I wanted to give the thought of running very serious consideration.
After several weeks of serious self-assessment and reflection I have decided not to seek any political office.
I consider myself extraordinarily blessed to have the life I live with boundless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of so many other people. For many of those I have come in contact with mutual friendships have developed. Those who have encouraged me to seek office never asked of my political affiliation, they did so because they know my heart. The general consensus of those leading the cheers was “we need good people in Washington”! As much as I understood that wish by others and wanted to fulfill it, I wrestled with how my own life would change. With the recent passing of several family members including my brother who was only 4 years older than me I could not summon the passion needed to attack this endeavor and give it 150% as I did to become a Hall of Fame athlete.
For those who personally know me I promise that while I am not seeking a political office I will continue to “Represent, Advocate and Inspire” those who feel they don’t have a voice.
Today is my birthday! I’m beginning to see a lot of birthdays come and go. And, for those of you who really know me, I am very happy to say that I am doing very well. As birthdays go, my family and friends will once again attempt to do their best to surprise me in some way or with a gift. I can honestly say that I’ve been truly blessed beyond measure and they know that I have never been about receiving gifts, instead I get my pleasure out of giving to others. And that is what I want to do for you if you are interested.
For my birthday I want to give you a gift to keep or pass on to someone that you admire, adore or respect for Christmas. Don’t make the request for the sake of making a request for a free autograph, make the request for someone who you think would really be surprised and pleased to get a photo personally autographed to them from me. From now until December 17th 2011 if you send me a self addressed stamped (manila) envelope I will send to you or the person of your choice an autographed photo from my personal private collection. I only asked that one request is made per person, you indicate the name of the person the photo should be made out to and the correct postage is placed on each envelope. All requests will be processed and mailed on December 19th and should arrive prior to Christmas Day.
All requests should be sent to:
Carson Birthday Request
Harry Carson Inc.
P.O. Box 852
Westwood, NJ 07675
I am extremely heartbroken over the passing of Lee Roy Selmon. Lee Roy was the top pick in my draft class in 1976 by the Tampa Bay Buccaners. Everyone who ever saw him play at Oklahoma and Tampa Bay will readily agree he was an outstanding player on the football field. But as great as he was on the field he was nothing but class off the field. He carried himself with dignity and was respected by all who knew him especially those who played with and against him. I am honored to have had the opportunity to call him a friend!
Noticed last week that when the NFL lockout was lifted many players rushed back to their respective ball clubs to begin working out. Some were so eager to get back they arrived before the team facilities opened and had to wait until the doors were unlocked to get in. I don’t want want to sound like a disgruntled former player but I’ve been there myself having gone through a strike and a lockout, I know what the glee was all about. It was not about the game, it was all about the money! That is what they were running back to. For all who beg to differ, i dont want to burst your bubble but you certainly don’t know professional athletes!
As each player ran back to his team I hoped each would read the poster that should now be in every NFL locker room. Last year the National Football League finally acknowledged that concussions and head trauma sustained in practice and games could lead to serious neurological issues later in life. The League made that acknowledgement by placing posters in locker rooms around the country. While I hope every player is aware of the poster and is now fully informed of the risks of dimentia, alzheimers and ALS later in life from concussions sustained in today’s games it is more warning than John Mackey and countless others like him who were strong willed football players got when they played “back in the day”. Many of those who never got the memo are either now living a life of being cared for by others or have passed away like John Mackey
several weeks ago.
Knowing what I know now, at the end of the day, the gray matter of the brain is much more valuable than a two year 50 million dollar contract that can be rescinded or voided after a player sustains multiple concussions (can you say former Eagle and Giants killer
There is no “if” but there is a strong “when” players of this generation begin to experience memory loss or lose their personal dignity I hope they can at least remember what they were running back to in 2011 when their lockout ended.