Vernon Turner

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Vernon Turner
VernonTurner 2.jpg
Position: Running back / Wide receiver / Return specialist
Personal information
Born: (1967-01-06) January 6, 1967 (age 51)
Brooklyn, New York
Career information
High school: Staten Island (NY) Curtis
College: Carson–Newman
Undrafted: 1990
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • NAIA national champion (1986, 1988, 1989)
  • First team All-South Atlantic Conference (1989)
  • First player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise history to return a punt for a touchdown (1994)
  • 3-Time NFC Special teams player of the week honors
Career NFL statistics
Kick return yards: 2,626
Punt return yards: 817
Rushing yards: 71
Receiving yards: 90
Touchdowns: 2
Player stats at

Vernon Turner (born January 6, 1967)[1] is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back, wide receiver and return specialist in the National Football League (NFL) and NFL Europe League (NFLE) for eight seasons during the 1990s. Turner played college football for Carson–Newman College, and then professionally for the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. He concluded his career with the Frankfurt Galaxy and Scottish Claymores in NFLE.

Early life and college career[edit]

Born in Bedford–Stuyvesant, a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Turner is the oldest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.[2] Growing up in difficult circumstances, he moved from the slum area in Brooklyn to the quiet neighborhood of Sunnyside on Staten Island while a young child.[2] His mother died when he was a freshman in high school and his stepfather while he was in college.[2]

Turner attended Curtis High School on Staten Island where he played football as a quarterback and also lettered in track and field. He earned all-city and all-state honors and left the school with over 4,000 yards passing.[3] In November 2011, Curtis High School inducted him into its Hall of Fame.[3]

After graduating from high school, Turner enrolled at Carson–Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, where he was recruited by head coach Ken Sparks to play running back. At the time, the school still was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), earning five Division I national championships during the 1980s.[4] Turner was part of three of those championships when the Eagles won the title in 1986, 1988, and 1989. As a junior in 1988, he led the team in rushing with 1,257 yards on 232 carries, and in scoring with 96 points.[5] During the championship game in December 1988, the running back helped to lead Carson–Newman to a 56–17 victory over Adams State University of Colorado while rushing for 189 yards and three touchdowns.[6] He scored his first six points on an 80-yards run in the game's first play from scrimmage.[6] His performance earned him offensive player of the game honors.[6] Despite concluding his senior campaign only second in rushing yards to teammate Robert Thomas, he was selected to the first team All-South Atlantic Conference in 1989.[7] That year, Turner ran for 869 yards and 12 touchdowns, and also returned 10 kickoffs for 263 yards, including one for 73 yards. He made his last appearance for Carson–Newman during the national championship game on December 16 when the team defeated Emporia State University of Kansas 34–20, marking the Eagles' third title in four years.[8] The New York native finished his collegiate career ranked second in school history with 569 rushing attempts, and fourth with 2,851 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns.[5]

Professional career[edit]

After going unselected in the 1990 NFL Draft, Turner signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos. Turner was released during the Broncos final cut. A week after getting released by the Broncos, Turner was signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad. Vernon was a part of Super Bowl 25 (Bills vs Giants). The following year, Vernon was again released by the Bills during the final roster cuts. Within 2 hours, Turner was picked up by the LA Rams. Turner led the Rams in Kick-off and punt returns for 2 years. Turner was released by the Rams at the end of the 1992 season. He signed a free agent contract with the Detroit Lions where he backed up Legendary return specialist, Mel Gray. Turner proved to be a notable fill-in for Gray, capturing multiple NFC special teams player of the week honors. Turner was released before the last game of the 1993 season; he was picked up immediately by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their last game of the season. Turner was their leading return specialist during the 1994 season. Vernon went into the Bucs history books by becoming the first player to ever return a kick or punt for a touchdown in the franchise history. His punt return currently ranks #20 in the Bucs 100 best plays ever. Turner tried his hand in the free agent market for the 1995 season; he signed a 3-year contract with the Carolina Panthers for the inaugural season. Vernon was released during the Panthers final roster cuts. Mid way through the 1995 season, Turner was picked up by the Detroit Lions. After the 1995 season. Vernon signed to play 3 seasons in NFL Europe (Frankfurt Galaxy & Scottish Claymores). Turner retired from professional football in 1998. [9]

Post-football career[edit]

Since retiring from football, Turner has pursued business interests. He owned an office furniture installation business in North Carolina, moved into the tire manufacturing business,[2] and currently works in the oil refining industry in Houston, Texas.

Turner also published his autobiography titled The Next Level: A Game I Had To Play in 2012.

On August 18, 2016, Derek Jeter's Players Tribune announced that they will be developing its first feature film; it will be about Vernon's life story.

Brad Gann (Writer of 'Invincible', starring Mark Wahlberg) was hired to write Vernon's story ('Relentless' - Working title).



  1. ^ "Vernon Turner NFL Football Statistics". Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Waggoner, Jim (April 19, 2011). "Ex-NFL player Vernon Turner tells his story, no holds barred". Staten Island, New York: Staten Island Advance. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Staten Island Advance (November 6, 2011). "Curtis High's Hall of Fame to induct 7". Staten Island, New York: Staten Island Advance. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Carson-Newman carries on football successes". USA Today. Tysons Corner, Virginia. November 27, 1996. p. 11.C. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "All-Americans and Eagle Records". 2010 Carson–Newman Football Media Guide. Jefferson City, Tennessee: Carson–Newman College Department of Athletics. pp. 78–79. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Associated Press (December 18, 1988). "Carson–Newman rushes to NAIA championship". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Spartanburg, South Carolina. p. C8. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ "History". 2012 South Atlantic Conference Football Guide. Rock Hill, South Carolina: South Atlantic Conference. p. 65. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  8. ^ Associated Press (December 17, 1989). "Carson–Newman repeats as NAIA champion". TimesDaily. Florence, Alabama. pp. 7C. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ Armstrong, Jim (April 25, 1990). "Broncos hope agents bring dividends". The Denver Post. Denver, Colorado. p. 6D. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 

External links[edit]