In April 2011, former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson killed himself in his Sunny Isles apartment, his brain racked by football injuries. The once proud and successful businessman was six months into the bankruptcy process. His suicide-- shooting himself in the chest to preserve his brain for dementia testing which would turn up positive-- highlighted, perhaps more stunningly than any other case, the human cost of football.
But those creditors still need their money. The bankruptcy case was recently settled for the total appraisal of Duerson's possessions at death: $19,500. That's the yard sale value of all that 50-year-old, two-time Super Bowl champ Duerson had in this world. Like everything else in this story, it's a deeply sad number. (Read our feature on Duerson's secret life in South Florida as he grappled with a failing brain.)
A bankruptcy trustee oversaw the auction of Duerson's 2002 Cadillac Escalade. It went for $6,000.
At Duerson's death scene, according to documents filed by the bankruptcy trustee in court, police collected some of the valuables from his house. Those included his "Super Bowl rings, personal property, and other memorabilia."
The cops then gave the item's to Dave's family. In June, the trustee-- who, in fairness, was tasked with a pretty morbid job-- worked to get a list of the items from police. She then negotiated a price with the family for the valuables: $3,000.
The trustee also valued Duerson's stalled business consulting company DD Favor, LLC at $3,000, miscellaneous items at $7,000, and two 17-year-old lithographs at $500.
Grand total: $19,500. Duerson's son Tregg settled with the trustee for that amount.
Duerson had greatly exaggerated his own prospects when filing for bankruptcy. Most prominently, he had claimed as an asset a $34.5 million court judgment related to his defunct sausage company. The judgment was unrecoverable.
Duerson ended his life firmly in the red: He owed several hundred thousand dollars to former business creditors.
Tregg Duerson has sued the NFL for the toll of his dad's concussions. From a coldly financial perspective, it's hard to argue with Tregg's case. Dave Duerson was once a millionaire and a CEO. When he took his own life in the throes of dementia, his most valuable asset was a nine-year-old car.
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We've embedded a trustee's report showing her appraisal of Duerson's assets, and a timeline of the sad postmortem bankruptcy: