It's hard now to remember a time when the departure of the New England Patriots seemed like a possibility.
In the early 1990s it wasn't just a possibility, it seemed like a done deal.
And then a bunch of good things happened, beginning with the hiring of Bill Parcells and the drafting of Drew Bledsoe out of Washington State University.
But there were lots of other contributions on the road that turned the Patriots into a dynasty instead of a 25-year footnote in NFL/AFL history.
One of them was a catch by a fullback out of the University of Alabama named Kevin Turner.
On a cold Sunday in November 1994, Drew Bledsoe threw a game-winning touchdown to Turner, capping what was, at the time (pre-tuck-rule, pre-snow-bowl, pre-multiple Super Bowl wins), perhaps the greatest comeback in Patriots history, an improbable 26-20 OT win over the Vikings.
Probably not many people remember that catch, but for me it was an incredible moment, and although the Foxboro crowd cheered the team off the field chanting the name of its new strong-armed QB hero, it was Turner's heroics that I've always remembered.
Turner played just three seasons for the Pats, then six more in Philadelphia before calling it quits.
He was my kind of player -- blue collar, hard-nosed.
Now, Turner finds himself in the fight of his life, recently diagnosed with ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's Disease.
But Turner's fight may also provide some ammunition against a newly-discovered disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) -- recently identified by researchers at Boston University -- in which patients subjected to repeated and significant head trauma seem to develop an ALS-like syndrome that is currently even more poorly understood than ALS itself.
You can read this excellent article from Boston.com about Turner's plight and this new disease.
I wish Turner nothing but the best.
2 days ago