Before Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest, he left a note asking that his brain be studied for clues to whether brain damage suffered during his NFL career had contributed to his depression, headaches and other health problems. The Boston University center that studies athletes’ brains now says Duerson did, in fact, have the brain damage he suspected.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy announced its findings this morning at the request of the Duerson family.
After playing seven years with the Bears, one with the Giants and three with the Cardinals, Duerson retired and at first had success in the restaurant business but began to have physical and mental problems in his 40s, and his businesses failed. He suspected that repeated blows to the head on the football field may have led to the difficulties he had later in life.
Duerson is one of more than 20 former NFL players whose brains were found to have been afflicted by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but his case has garnered more attention than any other because of his suicide and his final request, which he left in a note: “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”
The findings will undoubtedly put even more pressure on the NFL to take greater steps to prevent players from suffering brain damage on the field, as well as to provide greater care for retired players who have suffered brain damage in their playing days.