Boston University scientists announced today that Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears defensive back who committed suicide in February, showed evidence of a degenerative brain disease commonly associated with head trauma at the time of his death.
Duerson suspected that his increasing depression and loss of memory were the results of his playing days in the NFL.
Although the precise motivations behind Duerson’s suicide remain unknown, he had complained of headaches, blurred vision and a deteriorating memory in the months before his death.
He was showing the first signs of trauma-induced dementia at the time of his suicide, and it’s for that reason that he shot himself in the chest rather than the head. Now we know that his suspicions were correct.
In text messages sent out before he took his own life, Duerson asked his ex-wife to make sure his brain got to the right people.
“The text said that he loved me and he loved the kids and for me to love the kids,” Alicia said. “And that he thought there was something wrong with the left side of his brain and for me to please get his brain to the NFL.”
The heartbreaking circumstances surrounding Duerson’s death, not to mention the fact that his hunch about what was happening to him was correct, have made him the most glaring example of a neglectful NFL policy towards former players who show cognitive decline.