WINNIPEG - Bryant Turner knew something was up when the trainers wouldn’t tell him what exactly was wrong with his eye.
It was late in the second quarter of last November’s Grey Cup game against the B.C. Lions, and the Bombers rookie defensive tackle had just been poked in the left eye.
It wasn’t your average eye poke, though.
“I was coming off of a spin,” the Mobile, Ala., native recalled Wednesday. “I was spinning into the centre (Angus Reid), and he had his hands up, and I spun right into his finger. It went into the bottom of my eye, and it pulled the (lower) eyelid back and ripped the bottom part. It completely swelled shut right then.”
Turner headed to the locker-room with a towel covering his left eye. When they got in there, the trainers made the room dark and shone a light into his eye. Turner could see the light, which made him feel a little better, but they didn’t tell him what they saw.
“I couldn’t feel anything, and I was asking the trainers,” he said. “Of course they were trying to keep me calm, so they wouldn’t tell me what was going on. So that was kind of nerve-wracking.”
The cut was about half an inch under his eye and almost as wide as his eye itself, so the decision was made to glue the skin back together. Perhaps the worst part for Turner was it was the Grey Cup, and he wasn’t going back in the game.
“It actually brought me to tears that I couldn’t finish the game,” Turner said. “I was hoping maybe we could patch it up, hopefully I could play with one eye, but the pressure, it was too much to put a helmet on. It was terrible.”
He wasn’t able to see out of the eye for a week, and his sight didn’t return to normal until a month later. A bruise under his eye remained until just before he returned to Winnipeg for the start of this year’s training camp. “Luckily I can still see,” Turner said. “Everything’s good.”
Turner is wearing a clear visor to protect his eyes as he looks to build on an impressive rookie campaign in which he had two sacks, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a pass knockdown and 15 tackles in 13 games. He replaced an injured Dorian Smith and didn’t give the job back when the latter returned to health.
“I’m hoping to still compete for this job and be the best and do the best I can to help better the team, really,” he said. “No personal accomplishments. My only hopeful personal accomplishment is being back where I left off and building from there.”