At a news conference today, Boston University researchers announced that Dave Duerson, the former NFL player who committed suicide in Sunny Isles Beach and donated his brain for testing, was indeed afflicted with the brain trauma common in former players.
Duerson, who won two Super Bowl rings in an 11-year NFL career, including one with the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears, was the subject of a New Times cover story last week.
Family members described how Duerson slipped into increasingly erratic and irrational behavior in the final decade of his life, as his fortune, career, and marriage deteriorated around him. The intensely proud man, who was an all-American at Notre Dame and owned a massive meat plant upon retirement from the NFL, lived a false life in South Florida during his final years. Apparently wealthy and carefree, he was in fact living off his father's modest estate and afraid he was losing his mind.
On February 17, Duerson shot himself in the chest. He sent text messages and left notes requesting that his brain be examined by Boston University for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the affliction associated with dementia and suicide that has affected dozens of former football players.
Today the university announced that its study revealed Duerson was suffering from "moderately advanced" CTE. "The pathology was severe in areas of the brain that influence impulse control, inhibition, emotion, and memory," BU neuropathologist Ann McKee said in a statement.
Samples of Duerson's brain, as photographed by Boston University. They show "multiple regions of severe damage."
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The Duerson family released a statement: "The loss of David as a father, a friend, and a brother has been difficult. But we rejoice in the hope that this research can lead to better treatment and care for those with CTE."