By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
The stirring story of former NFL player Vernon Turner is slated for the silver screen.
“The moment has arrived where my story can impact lives globally,” said Turner from his home near Houston as he described how The Players Tribune (TPT) owned by former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter had optioned the rights to his life story, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter.
That story was, "The Next Level: A Game I Had To Play!” the book self-published by Turner a few years ago that told the tale of his mother telling 11-year-old Vernon, a native of New York City, that he was conceived through a gang-rape, and led to him basically being responsible for raising his four younger siblings while playing football far away at Carson-Newman University in Tennessee and later in the NFL.
But graduating from this real-life school of hard knocks, bigger things beckoned for the former wide receiver/kick returner/running back for the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the early 1990s.
“The Players Tribune approached me after hearing about my story, and that led to me writing a letter to my younger self for the website in May, and our relationship grew from there,” stated the former star at Carson-Newman, who was 5’6” and 97 pounds during his high school career on Staten Island.
Grew indeed as The Players Tribune invited Turner to its New York City headquarters to further discuss his compelling story.
“They told me they wanted to tackle this project, and they had me at hello,” related Turner, who added that Jeter talked about Turner’s inspirational story during a speaking engagement. “Now, we’re a team and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”
That excitement stemmed from the fact that Turner had already seen his story as someday being a movie.
“In 2011, I started to watch movies based on true stories, like Rudy, Blindside, and Invincible,” Turner said. “And that just opened the flood gates for me to write my story.”
That statement would prove prophetic when Turner was told definitively this summer by The Players Tribune that, “We want to quarterback this film project,” sending the New York City native into “happy disbelief.”
“They invited me to California to a board meeting, and then took me to the ESPYs, and we ended up signing the deal in California,” he said. “I already had a relationship with Magic Hour Productions, so they knew my story and fittingly the film will be produced in partnership with TPT and MHP,” he said.
Done in true Tinseltown fashion, and one which was long-awaited for the deserving Turner.
“I have been trying to find the right fit for a few years since I knew I would only get one shot, and I followed my instincts and it really worked out for the best,” he said. “My team worked so hard on this, so it is a really exciting time.”
In fact, a fitting Hollywood ending.