But mostly, Rams fans remember Turley for the happier days in 2003, when the rock & roll lineman, fresh off his fat contract, was the toast of the town. He'd leave his Ladue residence to spend time at his favorite hangouts — the Pageant and the since-shuttered Mississippi Nights — and do local jam sessions with acquaintances. (This included his current manager, Tim Pickett, who worked with EMI; Pickett met Turley through mutual friends on the Rams.) Turley also did charity concerts at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles and played alongside bigger names such as 3 Doors Down for Monday Night Football.

Turley says he still loves the St. Louis area, mainly for its knowledgeable fan base and hard-working citizens. "They're amazing," he says. "It's unfortunate that I couldn't finish my career there. I really wanted to. That was the plan." He says he'll soon do a remix of the song "Ram It."

Besides music, his other main focus these days is fighting for the rights of retired NFL players with traumatic head injuries. He has teamed with Mike Ditka to support the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which provides financial help and social services to NFL vets in dire straits, in large part because of health issues. He has testified before Congress and donated heaps of cash to troubled vets, whose health conditions have in some cases led to homelessness and suicide.

Kyle Turley: Hard-hitting music.
Kyle Turley: Hard-hitting music.

"You think the NFL cares about concussions?" Turley asks. "I don't think so. They've known about this since the '80s and haven't said anything. They say football has nothing to do with traumatic brain injury. [Commissioner] Roger Goodell and his medical staff say this. Well, go down to the courts when people are applying for disability and being denied."

Turley knows what it means to be in those players' shoes, because he's walked in them. Having suffered from dozens of NFL-related concussions by his estimate, he's been diagnosed with a form of brain damage called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. He gets constant headaches and has battled vertigo, memory loss and speech problems on top of anxiety and depression. He's on anti-seizure medicine to keep things in check.

But despite all this, Turley is able to shelve his issues and just celebrate his days as a football player — and the good times he had in St. Louis. After all, "We Ride," his recent single, includes a quick mention of "St. Louie."

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