Dave Duerson had brain damage

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.

35 responses to “Dave Duerson had brain damage

  1. Either repeated blows to the head or all those years of living in Chicago. Difficult to determine.

  2. It’s an unfortunate fact that pretty much everyone that plays in the NFL will die at a younger age than a normal person because of all the damage done to the body/head while playing football, but, that’s the game of football.

  3. This head injury stuff is getting ridiculous. It’s an occupational hazard for this job. don’t take the job if you don’t want to take the risk. You can make a lawnmower completely safe for use by removing the blade, but it’s not much of a lawnmower, now is it?

  4. Im not sure how much the league can really do about this.
    The players have to meet them in the middle. As long as players like Peyton Manning “joke” about cheating on concussion exams and find ways to get around the system nothing will change.

  5. That’s not possible, because only the owners take risks in the NFL. The players are all lazy, greedy malcontents. Haven’t you guys been paying attention to the comments on this board?

  6. Researchers analyzed Duerson’s brain a month after his death. Using his baseline test scores as a guide they pronounced him fit to start next week.

  7. i dont want to seem as though i’m trying to minimize the effects of concussions or seem unsympathetic to the long term effects they have on people, but these guys sign up for this. i dont see how the nfl can “take greater steps to prevent players from suffering brain damage on the field” without doing a great detriment to the game. the game is not intended to be played by launching yourself at people, so get rid of the players that do it. it’s simple. everyone acts like it’s some right to play professional sports just because you’re good at it. you do however, have a right to apply for employment with the league. just as they have a right not to employ you, for whatever reasons they choose, so long as they are not discriminatory. if you cant play the game the way its supposed to be played, then you shouldnt be allowed in the NFL or any of the professional organizations, period.
    suspensions and fines arent really working so kick them out of the league, and keep them out. these arbitrary fines and suspensions are just ridiculous and making the league look silly. if you’re going to be serious, then be serious. if you want to APPEAR concerned, then keep coming up with these window dressing knee jerk reactions.

  8. Why is all the blame on the NFL??? What about the NCAA and HS’s??? Don’t they play the same game where you continually get hit in the head???

  9. And yet there continues to be a push for 18 game seasons…

    I’m not willing to call the owners evil in their pursuit of 18 game seasons, but they sure come across as thoughtless right now.

  10. This why NFL players earn every cent they are paid no matter what people think of how they use it. They deserve their money more than any other athlete playing any of the big 4 sports in America today. This doesn’t happen to NBA, MLB, and yes even NHL players. It doesn’t matter what their background is or what their alternatives would be without football…they deserve it nonetheless. They take the real risk in football.

    Obviously Dave knew his brain was wasted and didn’t feel like living with it any longer. Sad…

    Even more sickening, some of the comments on this board…you ought to feel ashamed that you can’t even muster up a little empathy for Dave and his family…how you must hate your own life so very much!

  11. Did you ever think that maybe everyone has marks or damage to their brain in varying degrees and that, like arthritis, or any cumulative/degenerative condition, brain damage is part of life? To some degree.

    Sure NFL’ers have more exposure and risk, but I know I’ve had a couple concussions over the years, but no one is going to look at my brain to see the scarring etc. Maybe we all have some degree of damage, and it is just called “life”.

    These guys get paid a lot, and if you wan to stop the injuries, you have to end the game. Not going to happen, so why don’t we just do the best that we can do and move on.

  12. There is no magic “helmet that will prevent these head traumas.”

    Touch football will prevent these head traumas.
    Maybe it is time to end the sport, God knows they are trying to accomplish that on their own these days.

    They used to joust too you know. Maybe football needs to be relegated to the Shakespeare festival.

    I’m going off the deep end to make a point, there is no fix, do the best we can and MOVE ON, or just cancel the sport, because I don’t want to watch some watered down verison of the sport I grew up loving.

  13. I liked Dave Duerson. He was a decent man. It’s a crying shame that in the US we have the advanced technology to do many things, but somehow we do not have the ability to create helmets that can cushion the NFL players better.

  14. Hobarker:

    Are you about done? We’re talking about a man here, who left behind four kids, and countless loved ones…a human being that was both a good man on the field and off it.

    He gave his life to pro football, and in turn, developed brain damage because of it. The least you could do would be to not gloss over his pain in an effort to get some laughs.

    There is a time and a place for humor, and this clearly wasn’t it.

    R.I.P., Dave Duerson.

  15. No suicide not jokes allowed? What a pity. I thought my comment was insightful!

  16. Very tragic indeed. Maybe if defensive players actually tackled correctly rather than leading with their head to use it as a battering ram just so they can get the big hit for sportscenter highlights or “bringing the pain” you’d see less of this. The helmets aren’t the problem, it’s these guys style of play. Hard to feel sorry for someone like James Harrison if he ends up with brain damage by the time he’s 40.

  17. sure glad the owners don’t have to play! jeez, where would the league be if THEY had to put something other than money on the line?…

  18. @Hobartbaker – If you’re from Hobart, IN then I understand your jealousy concerning Chicago.

    And Hoosier your daddy?

  19. Football should address the rules of tackle to help with this problem. Coming from a rugby background, tacklers are required to hold/wrap up the ball carrier as they bring them to ground. From what I have seen (opinion), some serious head injuries in football come from players lunging at other players (ie head to head). Also in rugby, any contact above the shoulders is considered dangerous and quickly penalized.

    The people in Boston are doing good work… keep it up.

  20. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t part of the problem the fact that the brain essentially rattles-around INSIDE the skull when these hits take place? How would a helmet prevent that?

    Sad story. RIP, Duerson.

  21. Hobartbaker, you have once again proved yourself to be a tool.
    Please find another hobby than making distasteful, humorless posts on PFT.
    Thanks, from all of us here at PFT!

  22. spartyfi says:
    May 2, 2011 12:44 PM

    Why is all the blame on the NFL??? What about the NCAA and HS’s??? Don’t they play the same game where you continually get hit in the head?


    I completely agree with you. As a former football player, I knew all of the risks associated with the sport. All players know the risk of the sport they play, so nobody should put the blame on the NFL. Last year a kid got paralysed during a game of HS football. As sad as it is, like I said we all as players know the risks involved, and so did Dave.

    RIP Dave.

  23. You can play football without leading with your head. Improved helmets would be helpful but tackling with your shoulder pads and better technique would be best. Athletes are too big, fast and strong nowadays to prevent scrambling of the brain if players insist risking their lives leading with their skull.

  24. So does Mohammed Ali. You keep getting hit in the head over and over, it should be expected.

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