The recent death of former Chicago Bears (Giants & Cardinals) safety Dave Duerson is tragic and certainly shocking for his family, Bears teammates and friends. Dave apparently took his own life but before he did he instructed his family to donate his brain to science to study the effects of concussions he sustained as a football player.
Dave was a friend, a peer, a teammate on several Pro Bowl teams, was only 50 years old but apparently suffered in silence from the effects of traumatic brain injuries. Dave was not a disgruntled former player who had an ax to grind with nothing to live for; instead he was a smart and astute businessman who had much to look forward to in life. Dave’s suicide as well as the NFL finally acknowledging the correlation between concussions and ailments like dementia later in life should open the eyes of players on every level of football as well as the parents of young players and spouses of professional football players. We all better start asking the very personal question, is the neurological risks of playing the game worth it?
I am saddened with the death of a friend but I must admit that I am not overly surprised. There have been other former players who have committed suicides and unfortunately I suspect there will be others who will see that as a way to alleviate their internal pain. I was diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome in 1990. I’ve spoken very publicly about my own issues with concussions since about 1995. In doing so many individuals (players and non-players) have reached out to me as a resource fully understanding that I can relate to the issues of Traumatic Brain Injuries and not judge or ignore.
Football players especially professional football players are very proud individuals and are not always open to sharing their issues and pain to just anyone. I just wish Dave had reached out to someone for help, if he had perhaps he might still be here.