The family of former Bears safety Dave Duerson is criticizing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for recently comparing the risks of playing football to the “risk in sitting on the couch.”
The late Bear’s son, Tregg Duerson,” called the comments “an insult to the men affected by CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).”
In response to a question about parent concerns following the deaths of seven high school players who died due to injuries suffered in football games or practices, Goodell said that if he had a son, he would want his son to play football.
He acknowledged there’s “no higher priority than player safety” and said that changes in the league have led to a decrease in player injuries at all levels.
“There’s risk in life, there’s risk in sitting on the couch,” he said. “What we want to do is get people active.”
Duerson committed suicide in 2011 at age 50, but before he died he sent his family a message saying that he wanted his brain to be used for research into CTE. Neurologists at Boston University later concluded that Duerson did suffer from the disease, which is caused by repeated concussions.
“The Commissioner and the owners should be displaying empathy, not insensitively minimizing the severity of long-term brain damage,” Tregg Duerson said.
The Duerson family’s attorney also called the remarks “ill-advised” and “nonsensical.”
“He has, in effect, warned over 100 million of us that we will assume a risk if we watch [the Super Bowl] while seated on a couch. Really?" Thomas Demetrio said in a statement.
Duerson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2012, which later became a class-action suit. The suit resulted in a nearly-$1 billion settlement, but attorneys for Duerson’s family say they plan to appeal the ruling.