Another NFL Suicide: Dave Duerson Begs for Brain Testing
With the recent efforts by the National Football League to crack down on head-hunting and brutal hits on defenseless players – sad is the news of Dave Duerson’s suicide. Duerson was found dead in his home located in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Dave Duerson apparently shot himself in the chest.
In a strange and sobering twist, he chose to send a text message to his family prior to taking his own life. In it, he informed his family that he wanted his brain used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine. I presume that he was all-too-aware of the impact his professional playing career may have had on the depth of his feelings of despair before leaving this world. Left behind are his three sons and daughter born of his marriage to ex-wife, Alicia Duerson.
Dave Duerson excelled as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants through the 1980s and 1990, making 4 Pro Bowls and winning a pair of Superbowl rings, one with each team. His 11-year career ended quietly with the final few years played with the Phoneix Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) in 1993.
His isn’t the only suicide by a former NFL player in recent years. Offensive lineman, Terry Long from the Pittsburgh Steelers did so in 2005. Andre Waters, defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles did so in 2006. Defensive Lineman, Shane Dronette killed himself in 2009. Now, it’s Dave Duerson in 2011. And there are more.
While every case is unique, the spate of suicides by former NFL players leave many wondering if repetitive head injuries, which have already been shown to adversely affect the players’ brains over the long-haul, are in some way responsible for their untimely deaths at their own hands. It would seem that Duerson’s text message to his family requesting his brain be donated for study in the time leading up to his death has turned the heat way up on the NFL to do more, much more, in terms of studying the effects of their sport on the brains of the players.
In my prior article: James Harrison Fined $75,000 for Making Pro Bowl – I speak to the reality that the NFL simply isn’t doing enough to get to the heart of the medical issues that plague current and former players. While I appreciate that the fines levied against players go to various NFL Charities – I dare to suggest that all of the on-field and off-field fine money should go to the study of these injuries. If the league is going to take money from the players during their career, it’s not unreasonable to expect that the fine money should go towards improving their long-term health after they’ve retired from the game.
Sure, the NFL gifted one million dollars to the same Boston University School of Medicine for the ongoing study of head trauma in sports. Color me completely unimpressed with such a small gift from an organization that makes billions of dollars off of those same players who put their bodies and their lives on the line to make the NFL the premier sporting business in the world.
It’s particularly embarrassing because it is dwarfed by Dave Duerson, the 1987 Walter Payton Man of the Year and widely known as a champion for his fellow NFL brethren, because he donated his life to further research in the area of head trauma in sports.
So, while the owners and the players argue over such trivial issues in the grand scheme of things (like how to divide a billion dollars in revenue), maybe they should consider giving the Boston University School of Medicine that billion dollars so that the post-NFL lives of players and their families may be vastly improved and not littered with crippled and dead bodies. I remain convinced that stealing money from the wallets of players under the guise of “taking head injuries seriously” and then abandoning those same players in the years following their NFL careers isn’t the most appropriate approach. They’re simply not doing enough.