Duerson case has some unusual complications


When the estate of Dave Duerson recently sued the NFL for allegedly concealing the potential consequences of concussions, the most obvious difference between Duerson and the hundreds of other former players making similar claims is that Duerson contends, through his estate, that the chronic trauma caused him to commit suicide.  But there’s another significant difference between Duerson and other former players who have sued the league.

Duerson once assessed player disability claims, and Duerson repeatedly took the position that there is no connection between concussions and long-term cognitive problems.

“Duerson told me my long-term effects were from an act of God, not football, and now his family’s suing claiming something he fought against?” former NFL lineman Brent Boyd tells David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. “The Duersons are, in effect, suing their own husband and father for his corrupt practices as a voting member of the NFL disability board.”  Haugh also points out that Duerson once questioned the link between head injuries and health consequences in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee.

More recently, in the wake of a series of helmet hits on October 17, 2010 and less than four months before his death, Duerson bemoaned the fact that the league was changing the game in the name of safety.  “The game is protected [and] I’m pissed off today,” Duerson said in a radio interview.  “The Big Hit has been told to turn in his pads and jockstrap.  I understand they don’t want us using helmets as a weapon but this thing about devastating hits, come on.  If I was playing today I certainly would have taken my shots.  With the way they changed this game, now we can’t give [receivers] a big blow.  That’s what this game was built on.”

As Duerson’s case ultimately proves, the NFL must reduce those big hits on which the game was built.  Otherwise, the men who delivered and absorbed the punishment will eventually try to tear it down, in court.

18 responses to “Duerson case has some unusual complications

  1. It’s a shame but it’s Frivolous.
    We grasp for answers during a terrible situation like a suicide.

  2. Allow the hits. Make em sign a waiver. Maybe that will restore some of the balance in this game.
    Make it the WR’s responsibility to avoid the big hit, if he doesn’t want to endure it. Otherwise you just create a moral hazard on the field.

  3. When Bob Boyd was testifying in front on Congress, Duesrson interrupted him several times yelling how football didn’t cause long-term health problems. He consistently turned down former players disability claims. I guess he was brain damaged to take that stance. His estate should just show his stance against ex-players and Stevie Wonder will see he wasn’t in his right mind.

  4. So, if Duerson had not committed suicide, would he now be suing himself?

    If this wins out, “The devil made me do it” may replace “Some other dude did it” as the first li(n)e of defense.

  5. “Duerson told me my long-term effects were from an act of God, not football”

    So God IS a mean, spiteful bastard then.

    Glad we got that sorted out.

  6. It’s a shame and it’s frivolous. People grasping for money. Concussions and their long term sequela are an occupational hazard in the NFL. Accept it or don’t play.

  7. I can’t really blame the league for all the blame maybe the parents should be sued also for allowing their kids and sometimes pushing them into football.

  8. Of course he questioned the link between concussions and long-term cognitive problems even to his own detriment He was receiving a paycheck from the league. How many more hacks are still on the disability board?

  9. The competitive drive goes beyond a paycheck in the moment. Players will generally not let a coach know if they have a slight ding and will play through it until it is serious or until they are obviously incapacitated (like not being able to remember a play or even understand what play is being called).

    It is a shame that Duerson did not accept the long term consequences of repeated head trauma. There is really no excuse.

  10. Or maybe Duerson understood the long term consequences better than the panickers of today. It sure seems people are reaching to conclusions about head trauma based less on the data than on fear-induced assumptions about the data – do people really think players are that brittle?

  11. well if duerson’s case succeeds, all those who he denied bennies to should get bennies cash from duerson’s estate.

    or maybe he killed himself in part because he felt guilty.

    these guys all cashed the checks while they were playing.

  12. Case is complicated by the fact that while Duerson was just a standard idiot and jerk while he was alive, it’s no longer permissible to mention that, now that he is dead.

  13. If only he were still alive to deny his family’s claims. I wonder how many peoples claims he denied are dead now.

    To the people discussing how the players refuse to come out of the game, or admit they had “their bell rung”…. It’s not the league’s fault these guys egos are so big that they believe they are invincable. Their ego or refusal to admit faults may very well be leading to their own demise.

  14. This story has many angles.First…Duerson’s family are suing…FOR THE MONEY !Second..most people like defense and want to see “, The big hits ” Third..The big hits cause Concussions !.There are a great many law suites filed against the NFL, on concussion related issues..FOR THE MONEY !So what does this all mean ? You can’t have it both ways… something has to give !If the NFL has to pay large settlements…insurance companies are going to bail out and not underwrite the League.The sources for new player prospects, out of college, are going to dry up, as well as the college football programs themselves because, of the financial and health risks evolved ! Our game is in serious jeopardy as long as everyone keeps going after ” THE MONEY”


    Mike and all readers-

    Duerson did not tell me his disbelief that concussions caused any long term problems in private, HE TOLD ME WHILE INTERRUPTING MY SENATE TESTIMONY! so it wasn’t whispered in my ear, it was shouted in the Commerce hearing room, (sept 18, 2007) in front of Senate commerce hearing and 100’s of reporters (see Alan Schwarz NY Times)…remember, he was one of our precious few, three, supposed voting “advocates” on NFL disability board, so we know he voted to deny all claims involving concussions; those cases are tainted and must be brought up for a new, FAIR hearing.

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