Dave Duerson propped a dining room chair against the front door of his Sunny Isles apartment. He neatly laid out documents on the dining room table and on his bed. He also placed two framed certificates, framed medals, and a folded American flag at the head of the bed. Naked except for a gold necklace, he climbed into bed and pulled a green sheet up to his neck.
A crucifix was tattooed on his upper left chest. A Tasmanian Devil cartoon and two Chinese characters were inked on his left arm.
Apparently propping himself up with his elbows, Duerson held a fully loaded .38 Special in his left hand, aimed for his heart, and shot himself through the chest. The lead slug was later found in his right lung.
The wrenching details come from the autopsy report describing the scene of Duerson's suicide. The body of the 50-year-old former NFL star, who won Super Bowl rings with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, was discovered Thursday, February 17. His fiancée, who was in Chicago, had called the manager of Duerson's apartment building -- Ocean One, at 19333 Collins Ave. -- and authorized him to enter unit 603.
Duerson, formerly a successful businessman, had recently filed for bankruptcy. His ex-wife had taken him to court for failing to declare his Super Bowl rings, a Walter Payton Award trophy, and a Rolex watch. His only significant asset was a $35 million court judgment he was unable to collect. As the autopsy report states, he "also complained of memory loss and inability to spell." As has been widely reported, he texted members of his family before the suicide, asking that his brain be donated to the NFL Brain Bank to see if he had a disorder related to playing-time concussions. Those results are not yet available.
The immaculate and symbolic scene of Duerson's suicide hints that even after losing everything, he remained an immensely proud man. The autopsy report -- we've embedded a couple of less-graphic pages below -- notes, "The walk-in closet in the master bedroom has a football statue, three helmets from different football teams, and three football trophies."
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