By Craig Ellenport | July 19, 2018
“I do what I want, when I want, just because.”
The words of a neighborhood bully, perhaps? Oddly enough, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I do what I want, when I want, just because” was the answer Norv Turner gave when anyone would ask him what he was doing after coaching for 32 years in the NFL. Turner, a three-time head coach (Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers) and two-time Super Bowl-winning offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys, stepped down as offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings late in the 2016 season. He was 64 at the time.
To set the tone for letting people know that he could now do whatever he wanted, he went and did something you wouldn’t expect from a football lifer.
He wrote a song.
“I really like music,” said Turner. “I’m more of a lyrics guy. My kids always get tired of me saying, ‘Hey, have you listened to the words of that song?’ A good country song, the words, that’s a big part of it. There’s a story being told. I’m always very cognizant of the message being sent out by a song, and I’ve always been intrigued at how really good writers put words together.”
Turner had an idea for a song. Not coincidentally, it was a song about someone who suddenly had some free time and was thinking about what he might do with that free time.
“It’s something I used to laugh about or joke about,” said Turner. “People would ask me, ‘What are you gonna do when you retire?’ and I would always say, ‘Well, I’d like to do some things I’ve never done.’”
Turner enlisted the help of a professional musician, Stephen Ray Mariucci – the son of former NFL head coach Steve Mariucci. In December, the two released “Things I’ve Never Done.” Mariucci, who performs under the name Stephen Ray, provides the vocals. The song also appears on Stephen Ray’s new album, “California Country,” which was released this week.
“He really taught me a lot in terms of putting it together so it’s singable,” Turner said of the younger Mariucci. “We co-wrote the song. There’s a lot of him in there and there’s a lot of me in there. We got the idea and I think it’s come across well.”
Turner said the premise for the song dates back almost 30 years, when Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh retired from the 49ers in 1988 and suddenly realized there were all these cool things going on outside the world of football. “You do miss out on things,” Turner said last December. “I’ve enjoyed the last year.”
When “Things I’ve Never Done” was released in December, Turner was already thinking about new song ideas and it was suggested to him that his coaching days were behind him.
“I don’t know that you ever say never,” he said.
Sure enough, one month later he was introduced as the new offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. Ironically, this return to the NFL does give Turner a chance to do something that’s mentioned in his song: “Never take for granted your family time.”
Turner will get that family time with the Panthers — his son, Scott, is the quarterbacks coach.
So Turner will take a break from crossing things off his bucket list and get back to something he’s done for years. And if there are things he misses out on while keeping busy in the NFL, that’s just fine with him.
“When you’re doing what you love doing, and what obviously I dreamt about doing since I was a kid, that part of it (is) sensational,” he said. “I love coaching young guys, being around young players and watching them develop.”
Maybe the experience with the Panthers will provide a topic for his next songwriting endeavor. “The Ballad of Cam Newton,” perhaps?
“There are always things happening that if somebody put their mind to it they can make a song out of it,” Turner said.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys that really do this as an art form, and do it as a life’s work. I’m not pretentious to think that I can do that. I just enjoyed myself with this song.”
To listen to “Things I’ve Never Done,” click here.