The Offensive Linemen, the men who protect their Quarterback and carve holes for their Running Backs to go through are rarely profiled on television, and when they are singled out it is usually for a holding penalty. They don’t get the endorsements nor do they don’t get the interviews on the NFL pre shows. This is not to say that those in the know do not give them what is due. It was not that long ago when former Offensive Lineman Jonathan Ogden signed the richest contract in the National Football League and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio has its fair share of representatives from the O-Line in their establishment. Still, the Offensive Line has never, and will never be a glamour position, though we doubt that the men who play there would want it any other way. I can’t imagine that Kyle Turley, the two-time All Pro Offensive Tackle from San Diego State played the game hoping for recognition on ESPN. Saying that, Turley found his place in National Football League folklore, when during a game against the New York Jets, he ripped the helmet off of Damian Robinson and threw it across the field that had grabbed the facemask of his Quarterback, Aaron Brooks during an offensive play. Turley, was praised by some for defending his QB, though lauded by others for initiating a penalty, cemented his place in NFL history, but anyone who served in the NFL trenches, or any football trench for that matter, understood Turley’s actions. That maybe what Kyle Turley is most known for in the NFL, but we here at Notinhalloffame.com cover a lot more than professional football. After Kyle’s career ended on the gridiron, he embarked on a career in music, a field of endeavour that intrigues us even more. With that equation, how is it that we could not hope to talk to a man who was proved to be successful in both sports and music? Focusing on a blend of Country/Rock (with Heavy Metal infusion) Kyle Turley became one of the few men in history to carve a successful path in both athletics and music, and it was the music of Turley that necessitated our need to reach out to him. With a blend of legendary Country/Rock superstars Lynyrd Skynyrd and Thrash Metal gods Slayer, Kyle Turley put together a unique blend of Rock and Roll that was inspired from his own experiences from his life, the gridiron, and society in general. Saying all of that, our interview with Kyle Turley unveiled a man who was not only who excelled in the trenches of the National Football League but one who survived the wars of the music industry. If you have seen, heard or read interviews with Kyle in the past, you already know that he is known for his candid nature. It was the same with us, as we loved our conversation with the multi-faceted former New Orleans Saint, which we hope all of you will enjoy reading. I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of days prior to this interview listening to your music through YouTube and other sources of online media.[i] Musically, I would like to ask you the same question that I have asked other musicians, and this is one I am sure you get quite a bit. What would be the album or the song that changed your life? “Slayer, Seasons in the Abyss.[ii] Right off the top of the head for that question.” After hearing that album, was there something in you that told you that you wanted to go into music at some point in your life? “No. It was just such powerful music that it changed my life instantly as soon as I heard it. It’s quite unique and I’m actually going to see them tonight in concert at the Forum.” Nice! “Yeah man, I’m a metal head at heart. I grew up on old school country and my dad was a truck driver. I grew up in a lot of rural areas and country was huge. I grew up with a really good mix of everything. I moved to Southern California when I was 10 and I got into heavy metal, punk rock and other stuff.” Is it wrong to say that I hear a lot of Johnny Cash in your music? “No, Johnny is definitely one of my favorites. If I have three albums to take with me on a deserted island it would be Slayer, Johnny Cash and Bob Marley. That’s my perfect blend of music right there.” Very eclectic taste, I love it! I would love to see what’s on your I-Pod one day for sure. “It’s all about Pandora now for sure. All the bands that I knew growing up and all the live bands now are all there. I am getting introduced to all kinds of new music. I am really stoked on music.” For me it’s Slacker Radio. It has brought me to a lot of albums that I could not afford to buy as a kid. I have always heard about music in the locker room and multiple athletes pursuing musical careers. I am curious about the locker rooms that you have been with, in terms of what music dominated the locker room, be it with the New Orleans Saints, St. Louis Rams, Kansas City Chiefs or even at San Diego State? “What music dominated the locker room?” Yes. “Well, most coaches were particular in that they did not want to hear any music. It should be personal. It wasn’t until I got to Kansas City, and that team was a wreck anyway, and they let anybody play music in the locker room. You know, you don’t want to impose anything on anybody in the pre-game. I never wanted to do that. Now, maybe I thought that Slayer would hype our all team up, but that’s my opinion. Some guys like to listen to country some guys like to listen to Hip-Hop. For what it is for me, it is not going to be for the other guy. Good Coaches will always be very adamant that they didn’t want to hear anybody’s music. If you listened to music, you listened to it in your own headphones. Get in your zone, you know?” Transitioning into a music career, I would like to ask you when it was in your career that you decided that you would look to pursue a music career. Were you still playing in the NFL, was it after, or anytime before? The reason I want to ask is that as we know, there have many far too many cases where a lot of athletes don’t have the foresight to do something else. “Music has always been a big part of my life. You know, it is a passion! I had a bunch of money to screw off with and it was easy to start a record company. I had some friends in the music industry and I kind of got bamboozled a bit at first and had to learn the hard way in the music industry and how to do it and do it right. But it was something that I was very interested in, and I was able to gain some friends in the industry. I used the football card to get backstage and meet some people and give them Saints or Rams or Chiefs gear and hang out with them and let them know I’m a big fan. I was able to sit down with some buddies who were in bands or had side bands or things that they were working on. It was something that I always wanted to do. I was able to test the waters and it turned out to be something that lasted, miraculously, but through a lot of hard work, sacrifice and a lot of lost money. We finally understand the game and we’re trying to play it as best we can. It’s ever changing and always will be through social media and etcetera but overall if you’re passionate about it, and it is like that for any industry you learn your lessons and do the best you can.” One thing that I want to mention is on your website and social media, you have a logo that I think is fantastic. “I appreciate it.” I can see by that logo that you are still a Saint at heart? “Yeah. I was an art major in College, and that was part of the reason that I wanted to go into music I think.[iii] I design all my logos. I try to put something in it that means something you know? The same goes for all of my tattoos. I’m not the kind of guy who goes out to get a tattoo just to get a tattoo. It has to mean something to me. With the logos, you have to put a lot of thought into it and know what you want people to draw from that image. It’s one of those things that if you do it right you don’t have to change anything.” In a lot of the songs that you have, it is clear that you draw from your own experiences, be it on the football field or other aspects of life. You have been very open about changes that you would like to see in the NFL, and you have this interesting dynamic of being thought of as a musician/ex-football player. “You know, I’m kind of marked as that. It is what it is. I was in an arena that few people get to step into to. That definitely marks you and you are forever an ex-football player. I ended up doing something in my football career that I became famous for. I was known for throwing the helmet, so now I’m the “helmet guy”. Whatever it is you made it to the public eye for will stay with you.”[iv] I am actually a diehard Saints fan myself. “Oh right on man!” I remember being bummed out as I missed watching that game, as I had to go to a wedding that day. It was a Jewish wedding, so it was on a Sunday. Frankly, I don’t know who schedules a wedding on a Sunday during the NFL season but (laughs). I think that a lot of your songs show the war in the trenches that you had. “Oh definitely! That’s the position I played, and it was a war every play. It was a battle. It was a hand to hand combat fight and you had to have the mentality of a warrior to go into that situation and come out victorious. I took great pride in that I was always ready to do that. I believe I accomplished that through my career and that it speaks for itself.” You have been outspoken on changes that you would like to see in Football. On your website, you have the banner of the Sports Legacy Institute from Christopher Nowinski, who has been leading the study on concussions in sport.[v] Concussions are a big hot point in not just Football, but in sports in general. Do you think that they are going in the right direction in preventing these issues from coming up in the next generation? “No, they’re not. They’re clearly not. We saw an issue with Michael Vick this season, and every year we see the same situation over and over and over again, where you see a complete lack of protocol and they just put Band-Aids over it.[vi] Media wise they have rules that they have come up with, with defenseless players and that’s helped a lot with Receivers in going over the middle; it’s helped with those really bad concussions that they can get. Outside of that, Football is Football and they have done nothing to address the concussion issue. They have done anything to address how the concussions are treated. We saw that just recently with Michael Vick getting a serious concussion and taken to the locker room and put back in the game. If there’s a doubt you shouldn’t go back in. If there is a doubt, than it is a serious concussion and you shouldn’t be going back in. The player would be not dizzy, disoriented, they would be able to walk fine, they would be able to talk fine, they would be able to tell you that they were fine and tell you what happened in their day, and their situation and where they are at. The reality is that when you take all these thing into account, they then ask the one question that they should never ask, which is ‘do you think you can go?’ That is the question that still goes around that fumbles out of NFL doctor’s mouths pre and post game. They are sitting there wondering how the game is going to turn out for them pending the opponent. But that’s the business, you know? If that’s what it is then give us lifetime medical or guaranteed contracts. That’s the way to solve it. Call it what it is. If you want it to be a blood sport and you could care less about our bodies and our brains and families and what it will all do to us down the road, than here is a bunch of money so all of you come out here to try to get it.”[vii] There is a lot to what you are saying here. I use my wife as a litmus test for just putting perspective on sports. She is not a sports fan at all, but she puts up with living with a sports fanatic. On Sundays when I am watching the National Football League, she doesn’t have to be a sports fan to recognize that this is the biggest league in North America. When I told her one time that this was the only major sport with no guaranteed contracts, she couldn’t understand it. In her mind, that defied all logic based on the sheer money she was generated from the product. “It’s because of our failed union. We have a joke of a union that has failed every step of the way. All the benefits that the player’s union gloated about obtaining, any agent could have done that. What they have failed to do is hear the voices and the words of the players that scream in the union meetings and in the locker rooms that we need guaranteed contracts and lifetime medical. That’s all it is. It levels the playing field; players’ careers will definitely be longer. If you want to address the issues than that’s what you do. Have both parties have a responsibility to make sure that either the player is healed or you’re willing to give up that money that he goes out there in that one game that you really need him for risking all the others and pay him just like you do those (baseball) Pitchers that make $100 million dollars, or whatever, when they throw out their arms. It happens all the time (in baseball). You see situations where these baseball guys sign these massive contracts and everybody’s fine with them. Their union has been able to negotiate guaranteed contracts when they have just as high a risk of throwing out their arm and getting Tommy John Surgery and may never pitch again like they used to as it is in the NFL for Running Backs to blow out a knee.[viii] That’s a reality. We just have a failed union that has prided itself on all of the money that has built up in their war chest and seem to never use. We got Workers Compensation benefits taken from us in California. We’ve got a benefits system that is structured horrifically that guys are denied left and right for earned benefits that have clear injuries that are disabling. They’ve really been the issue. The NFL has been the money grubbing old white men that everybody says they are.” Do you take flack from other players for speaking your mind, or do they pat you on the back? “A bit of both. You have the company guys who will sit there and spew the company line and defend it to the end, and you got the guys who know the real story. I don’t know why there are guys on the other side. Personally, they must be void of compassion and void of an understanding of what their brothers went through during their careers, or they are just taking their money and keeping their mouth shut. Look at the situation with the NFL concussion settlement. You can take to a man, every person that’s on TV that talks about of football; none of those guys were involved in the concussion lawsuit. Zero. Everybody’s got a price tag. They run their lives that way. Unfortunately, you run into a guy like me; I would have played this game for a dollar, because it was a dream of mine, and the majority of guys I believe are like that. All we wanted in return was for them (the NFL) to honor their word. That we would be taken care of after the game was over and that just hasn’t been the case.” In terms of image problems with the NFL, so much has been made of the Ray Rice situation. Roger Goodell has certainly taken a big hit for denying that he saw the video. I certainly have a strong opinion on it but whether he did or did not see it is not something I am going to say here. “(Laughs) You can guarantee he did!” Yeah, he probably did. OK, I gave my opinion! The domestic violence policy that although existed in the NFL, which was never enforced is now front and center. The difference maker being that we all saw the tape. Are these issues that the NFL should have looked at harder and been proactive on? “It’s a huge deal. Since all the information has come out on how many cases where there have been cover-ups, that’s a big deal. When the NFL, which is actually dominated by women viewers, a group that buys a lot of merchandise, business wise that is a huge deal demographically. Whether they consider that insignificant seems to be the case. There was Roger Goodell basically laughing and pumped his chest out and laughed and said ‘I’m not fired, hah!’[ix] It was a joke to them (the NFL) and it was a joke to him. The only concern they had in the Ray Rice situation was what image it was going to portray in the public, or how much was it going to hurt their team by not having their player. At the end of the day, that’s what its all about. What if there’s a video that popped up about Michael Vick? I’m sure that they are out there? You don’t think that in all of that investigative work and the undercover work that was done that there isn’t any video that helped to bring the dog kingpin down? I’ll go out on a limb and with that still being the cell phone era, and with video cameras, and I am sure that there were guys videoing these crowds at these dog fights that these investigators surely had to have some type of video evidence! They had to have more than just breaking into his house and finding a bunch of dogs in kennels. So, imagine if that had come out! Or even if it does today! The visual part of that occurring is definitely necessary. In my situation I had a serious back injury, which is a perfect example of how the NFL chooses its priorities. My career was extremely sidelined by because of a serious back injury and I got into it with Mike Martz and got into a fight with him in his office.[x] We got into a yelling match, he tried to say that I threatened him and this and that.[xi] It was all over my injury. I wasn’t being treated right. The organization, the team doctors, it was all just fumbled beyond belief. The team was allowed to release me while I was rehabbing and nearly ready to make a comeback. I ended up having to be under a league minimum contract in the last two years I played football, which was with the Chiefs. I had just signed a six year deal with the Rams and I did everything I could to make it back to play football again. I was allowed to be released, let go and I tried and tried to go to the union and get them to help with the situation and the answer back ultimately was that they were too busy trying to get Michael Vick off and that they couldn’t go to battle for my case. It’s because they have these high profile players that mean a lot to them, you know, good publicity or bad, you would think that the NFL does not like bad publicity. The NFL doesn’t believe in bad publicity. The NFL is a media machine that believes that any press is good press. It shows in their ratings. They’re proven right. The whole thing with Ray Rice; I’m sorry and this might not be the right thing to say, but the women of the football world sat down and took it. At the end of the day, where are these four ladies that are supposed to be in these positions to deal with these situations? Where’s the FBI? I am sure that there are some female investigators who would love to have their hands on this. What happened to Gloria Allred? She said that an accusation was about to come out, but nothing happened. Obviously somebody got paid off in that situation. She let that one die; she didn’t take that one any further. This situation just went away. There have been no consequences whatsoever. That’s because of the NFL’s power and the people that support it. Going back to what you said about having other players against me? There are people that buy into this that think that football is God and if they think or believe that it’s going to hurt the game, which I don’t believe, which is why I talk freely about it. I know that it’s not going to stop. I know that our society loves violence and this is one of the greatest sports period that has ever been invented. Anybody who has ever played it gets attached to it! It’s an amazing game to play. It does have some serious negative things around it that don’t necessarily need to be there. Unfortunately in some of those cases will probably be there forever.” Do you still watch football on a regular basis? “Oh yeah! I watch it all the time! I still help coach camps. I love football. Football is a passion and has been since the day I decided to play it. It is one of my greatest loves ever to strap on a football helmet and play football. That will never die no matter what. Nothing in this world would ever equal the feeling or the adrenaline that is the rush you get from playing football. To make it to the National Football League; I wouldn’t trade it even with all of the damage done.” Going back to music, where would like to see your band in the next five years? “The music industry is so crazy and it’s all based on a lot of different factors. Ultimately it’s whether or not you put the work in. It’s gone back to the days of old and unless you become an overnight sensation with a pop hit, you have to get out there and beat the streets. I’ve done that the last four or five years and I’ve opened up for everybody under the sun in the Southern Rock world. I’ve got a small little metal project that I am working on. You know, I don’t really think five years out. I know that five years from now I will still be playing music but at what stage that will be? I don’t know. Hopefully some opportunities will come. Unfortunately, I can’t get out as much any more due to injuries and the surgeries that I need done from the game of football that are starting to surface. I’m right at that age where that finally catches up to you. I’m close to 40, and that is around where everything starts to fall apart. It’s when you have to get it all fixed and fused, get bolts and plates, it’s the reality of football. I can’t perform as many shows. I have to focus instead on quality instead of quantity. I’ve got to lay low for awhile as I ran my body pretty hard for awhile touring across the country back and forth for the last four or five years. I drove my own tour bus for at least two years straight. The music industry is a tough cookie to crack, but still at the same time, I have the passion for it and it’s not like football where I can’t do it anymore. I can do it sitting down or standing up. Hopefully in the next five years my body will feel a little better and I’ll be in a better position to push the music. Right now, as I’m healing it is on the shelf for a little bit.” Well, Jeff Healey made a lot of money, and I don’t think he stood up much in concerts![xii] “(laughs) Like I said, you can do music anywhere. That’s the great part about it. Can you do it every night though? That’s the true test.” Can you tell me a little bit more about the metal project you have going on? “It’s just a little small project, it’s a doom metal project that me and my bass player from my country project that we have going.[xiii] It’s him playing guitar running through some crazy amps, pedals, we got a weird vocal thing going on. It’s called “Delta Doom” and you may see it. We toured a little bit with Crowbar last year and that was a lot of fun.[xiv] We had a decent response from some good sized crowds. You never know. The music industry is like that.” Is there anything that I can let people know where to find you? “Gridirongreats.org is one. That’s the charity site for the charity I work with Mike Ditka on for retired players. That would be the one I would want to promote the most.” Thanks so much!
You can follow Kyle Turley on Twitter @KyleTurley or visit his website at kyleturley.com.
This is the YouTube Page for Kyle Turley’s label, Gridiron Records https://www.youtube.com/user/gridironrecords [ii]
That was the 1990 album from Slayer, and was widely acclaimed in the Metal genre. [iii]
Turley went to San Diego State where he was a consensus All American in 1997. [iv]
He isn’t kidding. The first thing that comes up when you Google his name is helmet. [v]
Nowinski was himself a former College Football player at Harvard and went on to a career in the WWE which ended due to concussions. [vi]
This is in reference to the Jets loss to Kansas City on November 2. Vick had a head injury in the fourth quarter and returned to the game. [vii]
Despite all the issues with concussions and domestic violence, on November 20, 2014 ESPN announced that 28 of the top 30 rated television programs this fall (starting from September 4, 2014) has been NFL games. The NFL is bigger than ever. [viii]
A recent article shows how Tommy John Surgery is on the rise. [ix]
This is Goodell responding about job security: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItvjfXMbsPM [x]
That happened on December 13, 2004. [xi]
Martz alleged that Turley threatened to kill him. Since the time of the incident, Turley has stated that he never threatened him and has maintained that ever since. [xii]
Jeff Healey was a blind Canadian Blues Rock singer. If you saw Roadhouse, he was Cody, from the bar band. [xiii]
Doom Metal is a slower, lower tuned based genre where both the music and lyrics are to evoke themes of (as you would guess) impending doom. [xiv]
Crowbar is a well known band in the Metal genre and considered to be very influential. Not coincidentally, the band is based in New Orleans.