Interview By: Stephanie Shehan Photos By: James A. McQuillan Kyle Turley played nine seasons in the NFL. During that time, he sustained numerous injuries including early onset Alzheimer’s, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), seizures and vertigo. Since his retirement, he has utilized and spoken out about the benefits of medical cannabis. Turley has an […]
Interview By: Stephanie Shehan Photos By: James A. McQuillan
Kyle Turley played nine seasons in the NFL. During that time, he sustained numerous injuries including early onset Alzheimer’s, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), seizures and vertigo. Since his retirement, he has utilized and spoken out about the benefits of medical cannabis. Turley has an array of business interests in the cannabis space. He created Neuro XPF, a CBD company, he is a partner in a California dispensary, and he is a board member of the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund which provides medical care and assistance to retired players. Most recently, he along with other football greats, Jim McMahon, Ricky Williams and Eben Britton, joined together to create the Revenant cannabis brand. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Kyle about the new venture and what led him to cannabis.
STEPHANIE SHEHAN: Congratulations on your new brand and, on your recent move to Tennessee. How are you adjusting to life in the South?
KYLE TURLEY: Thank you, we are excited for the new brand. Here in Tennessee, everyone is living. We moved from California where many businesses and schools are still experiencing a multitude of Covid restrictions and mandates. Here, schools are open, masks are not mandated, my kids are playing sports. It’s beautiful!
SS: That’s awesome. Speaking of Covid, you have been quite outspoken about the virus and about using cannabis to combat it.
KT: This is an unfortunate situation we are in. I don’t think there is anyone out there that can say there isn’t something going on here. It doesn’t make sense and the government and health officials are pitting our communities against one another. No matter what you believe, whether there is a virus or isn’t a virus, there are two million other viruses floating around daily and those are out to kill you. I haven’t really been sick in the last 6-7 years. I do think I had Covid, mainly because I lost my sense of taste and smell. When that happened, I made sure I ate as many jalapenos as I could – they have a much higher Vitamin C content than something like oranges. I used what I could naturally to get better. And honestly, whenever I am not feeling 100%, I smoke more cannabis and guess what, I feel better. There were many people that were upset with me when I said that cannabis could cure Covid. But, the definition of the word “cure” is to bring the human body back to health. Every study that the government has conducted on cannabis shows that cannabis puts the body back into homeostasis. Being in homeostasis and having your body balanced is just where you want it to be. Not to mention, these big pharmaceutical companies that are distributing vaccines, guess what else they are involved in? Synthetic cannabinoid development. These companies are currently working on synthetically developing somewhere around 400 different cannabinoids.
SS: You played multiple seasons in the NFL which brought a lot of injuries. Oddly, I think there are still a lot of people out there who do not understand why sports injuries are better treated with cannabis than with pharmaceuticals.
KT: It’s crazy isn’t it? To know where we are, and where we’ve come from, to still hear people be that confused just baffles me. I often wonder what people are using their smartphones for. The information on cannabis and how the plant helps people is readily available for those that care to do a little research. I don’t know how much more I can talk about it from a personal perspective. I used to take a ton of pills and I don’t anymore. Playing football, I put my body and my brain through an unbelievable beating that resulted in plates and screws being put in, and things being taken out. My partners and I were the pharmaceutical guinea pigs of football in the 90’s and early 2000’s.
SS: The pharmaceutical industry is money driven and they’ve certainly got their marketing down to a science.
KT: They sure do. The commercials on television that show pharmaceutical drugs that are used by and sometimes endorsed by athletes. What do you think the general public is going to think? They are going to buy into it. For me, cannabis saved my life. I haven’t taken any pharmaceutical drugs for seven years now.
SS: Were you a cannabis consumer prior to playing football?
KT: I was definitely introduced to cannabis as a teenager, I grew up in Southern California. I had friends that grew and friends that consumed. As I learned more about it, I realized there were many people using cannabis, from people at my church to neighborhood ladies using it for Glaucoma. I feel like there was always that seed being planted in the back of my head preparing me for the opportunities I have today. I believe that God has prepared every one of us for a great opportunity and to serve a purpose here and cannabis is mine. Cannabis was given to me as a health benefit by another player that saw I was struggling with a lot of on-the-field and off-the-field issues. I was dealing with the pressures of the game as well as some conflicts personally with family. Cannabis allowed me to sleep and eat. Rest and recovery are what our bodies need and cannabis gave me that. I saw many friends in college lose their scholarships over cannabis use and that’s unfortunate because this plant heals.
SS: You have a CBD company, Neuro XPF and the products sold under that company contain no THC. I am assuming that you created that company to help athletes who may also be drug tested.
KT: That is correct. I attended The Emerald Cup up in Northern California about six years ago to do some research and understand what the cannabis industry was all about. The Emerald Cup team had invited me there to speak and tell my story. And, this was one of the first cannabis events to welcome athletes to the stage. While there, I had the chance to see what all these companies were doing and to hear stories from those using cannabis medicinally. At that time, I didn’t really know much about CBD and there was a guy there giving out CBD dabs. He told me it was pure, CBD isolate and that it wouldn’t make me high but that I would feel great. Of course, I tried a dab and within a very short amount of time, everything just started to balance out. All of a sudden, I was walking around taller, fresher and more alive. I immediately went back to the guy to find out more. He explained the process of making isolate and I knew right away that I had to look further into this. CBD was the best way to help athletes and even children. And thus, my company Neuro XPF was created. We have since worked with many extreme sport athletes and youth leagues. It has been amazing to be able to help people with the same plant that has helped me in such an amazing way.
SS: Your passion as well as your mindfulness towards athletes is inspiring. Will you add any whole plant CBD products to your line?
KT: Absolutely. I started with the isolate line because I knew that athletes that faced drug testing and minors would need something without any trace of THC. Today, the NCAA is allowing a higher THC nanogram limit and the NFL has stopped suspending players for positive cannabis tests. There are alot of good things happening and we are elevating that conversation. We started with isolate products and we are now about to launch Neuro XPF Plus which is a full spectrum product line. We are also looking at doing a smokeable line of hemp products. Regardless of what some think, smoking cannabis is also quite medicinal and beneficial to the lungs.
SS: How about your family, your wife and kids? Do they utilize CBD?
KT: Oh yah, my wife had skin cancers for the first ten years of our marriage (we’ve been together twenty years). Over the last five years, since she’s been taking CBD, she rarely sees skin cancers and when she does, we use a highly concentrated RSO (cannabis oil) on them with a Bandaid on top and within three or four days, they are gone. Our daughter unfortunately was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. We couldn’t figure out what was going on with her, we were just told that she’s at that age where puberty is happening and hormones are coming into play. When we took her to the emergency room, she was at around a 600 blood sugar level. The doctors there told us that people that get to that level typically do not live. They said that she had been sustaining at that level for almost a month. We were dumbfounded at that. They asked what we had been doing with her and we told them that we give her CBD daily. It is really difficult to explain to people all of the ways that cannabis has helped me and my family.
SS: How frustrating is it to have conversations with actual physicians who, with just a bit of research could educate themselves on cannabis and the endocannabinoid system?
KT: I have had in depth conversations with the NFL doctors as well as other medical professionals. They want to hear what I have to say and then many choose to ignore me after that. They tell me they appreciate what I am doing and encourage me to keep doing what I am doing without acknowledging that they could be instrumental in helping push this along. I think it is more palatable for doctors if I keep doing the talking.
SS: Of course it is more palatable if you do the talking. I’m sure they would want to do the talking if there was money to be made. You recently launched your cannabis brand, Revenant. How is that going?
KT: We have launched in California. The brand is doing well and we believe that if we are successful in California, we can take the brand anywhere. I am originally from California so I already had a dispensary that I fought for that I am part owner of in Moreno Valley called Shango. I also have a micro-license in California right outside of San Diego. I have been told that come October, we can begin the process to start cultivation. San Diego has had a moratorium on cultivation, but that will soon change. Revenant is big, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so I brought in a few friends (McMahon, Williams, and Britton.) Helping people is a big undertaking and what better way to further the message than to join forces with these guys.
SS: Absolutely. I feel like the majority of young people are already on board with cannabis. Reaching those in their 40’s and older is instrumental. And, I think you have just the team to do it.
KT: I think so too. Our team of former NFL players along with the consistency of our products is what makes us stand out. The strains in our Revenant line are strains myself and the guys are using. Some are very low in THC but they are extremely effective. Most athletes have been high on pills for a very long time and they’re sick of it. I know I was.
SS: Football is generally presented as a clean-cut, all-American sport. Any pushback from fans of the game from your connection to cannabis?
KT: All the time. People are still very uneducated. And there are many people who just do not want to understand this plant. You can’t do anything about that and we have enough momentum to keep going. It has really come to the point where we are starting to not hear those voices anymore. It’s a quick, easy button to unfollow and block the negative ones. I am good with it. At the end of the day, we are here to help people and those numbers are going up.
SS: Will we see the Revenant brand here in Vegas?
KT: Oh, of course. Like I mentioned, California is our test market and we plan to bring Revenant to as many legal states as possible.
SS: Well, I am certainly looking forward to that. How can readers follow you, and your brands on social media?
KT: I am on Instagram @kyle_turley. Your readers can also follow Revenant @revenantmj and Neuro XPF @neuroxpf.