Eric went on to major in history at UCLA, hoping one day, after his playing days were over, to go on to law school. On the football field, as a freshman, he was named Rookie of the Year, earned All America Honorable Mention in his sophomore year, was selected to the first team All-PAC 10, led his team with 93 tackles and 5 interceptions as a senior going on to finish his career ranked 4th on the school's all-time list with 369 tackles.
In 1991 he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL Draft - the second pick overall - the highest ever for a defensive back in league draft history.
Turner played for the Browns (turned Ravens) for six seasons, making the AFC Pro Bowl squad as starting safety in 1994 and again in 1996.
The Oakland Raiders signed Turner as an unrestricted free agent prior to the start of the 1997 season. Joining the Raider family was something that Eric had hoped for. "I've prayed on this many a time for months that this would come true," Turner said after signing with the Raiders. "The tradition...everything about the Raiders. I could take it down as far as the uniforms. They've got great defensive players here, great tradition, and I just wanted to be a part of that...There were other teams, but there was no other team I was interested in. Teams called, they wanted me to take trips, I said still there's only one team I wanted to play for."
Even down to the uniforms. Eric started as a free safety for the Silver and Black in 1997 wearing number 42, but when the veteran Albert Lewis retired after the 98 season, Turner got to sport his old favorite number 29.
In 1997, Turner started in 15 of 16 games, leading the team in tackles with 111. He also racked up two interceptions, nine passes defended, one forced fumble and had a team high of three fumbles recovered.
The 1998 season saw Turner starting as both free safety and strong safety, piling up 38 tackles, one sack, three interceptions and four passes defended in the first six games of that year before a foot injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. My personal favorite E.T. stat came that year on his birthday in the Denver game when he recorded the 1998 NFL's longest interception return with a 94 yard touchdown return. It was a beautiful thing.
During the 1999 season, Eric Turner played in 10 games for the Raiders, making 45 tackles and tying for the team lead with three interceptions. The six games he missed were due to another injury, but apparently Turner was already suffering from some intestinal problems during the season.
Of late in the offseason rumors had been flying that Turner was suffering from intestinal cancer. He was a private person and wanted to keep his fight with the illness within his family so we will not discuss it any further here, except to say that he ultimately lost that fight to complications from the intestinal cancer on Sunday, May 28, 2000 at the age of only 31.
Turner's nickname was E-Rock. And from all accounts he was a "rock" both physically on the football field and mentally and spiritually off the field, as well.
Once when asked by a fan in a chatroom interview about how the death of Tim Hall had affected the team, Turner said, "It was a shock to us all. It makes you realize that tomorrow is not promised so you'd better live your life for the Lord today." And by all accounts, Eric Turner did just that. He was known for a great work ethic on the field, a winning personality with his teammates, enjoyed a very close relationship with his family, and was a wonderful, dedicated father to his son Eric Ray, Jr. (9). He actively served his community through the United Way, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Our thoughts and prayers go out for Eric's family and friends.