Posted on May 4, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone this week when researchers announced the findings of their examination of the brain tissue of ex-Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson: He had chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE, as it is known, is the mentally debilitating disease that’s been found in the brains of nearly two dozen deceased National Football League players. It is caused by repeated trauma to the brain, and its symptoms include depression and memory loss.

As it turns out, Duerson had actually correctly diagnosed CTE in himself. Then he took a took a gun and committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

He chose the chest, rather than the head, so that his brain would remain intact. He wanted it to be tested at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which has been testing donated brain tissue from deceased pro-football players.

According to The Times, Duerson, who was 50 when he took his life, in a suicide note wrote, “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”

His last wish was granted. And at a press conference Monday, the center in Boston announced its findings on Duerson’s brain, the CTE diagnosis.

“It’s tragic that Dave Duerson took his own life, but it’s very meaningful that he recognized the symptoms of the disorder — it validates the condition,”  said Dr. Ann McKee, who was quoted by The New York Times.

Validates it indeed.

The NFL for years denied there was any link between the concussions that players repeatedly sustain and permanent brain damage. If it had taken responsibility, and taken measures to protect players, perhaps Duerson would be alive today.

Duerson, who played college ball at Notre Dame, had four children with his ex-wife Alicia. They were all at the press conference.

His 25-year-old son Tregg said he hoped that the research being conducted now would help save everyone from Pop Warner to NFL players from the same fate as his father.

Tregg also said he hoped his father had not died in vain. So do I.

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447