Former Bear Dave Duerson had brain damage when he committed suicide in February, Boston University studies confirm.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the university's School of Medicine announced on Monday findings that said Duerson had "classic" symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Duerson, 50, shot himself in the chest with a .38 caliber revolver on Feb. 17 in his Florida home. In a text message to loved ones, Duerson asked that his brain be left for NFL research, emphasizing he wanted the "left side" checked out in particular.
Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, received a call from a friend of the Duerson family that night. He made arrangements to have the brain prepped in time for research and sent to Boston University.
Nowinski expected the research of Duerson's brain to take 3 to 6 months but noted NFL players are "at high risk for CTE." Thirteen of the first 14 NFL brains they studied have shown to be diseased with CTE.
Duerson's ex-wife, Alicia, said during a March interview he was tortured by his health. "He talked to me a lot about blurred vision, and he had to go somewhere in the city and he couldn't remember how to get there. It was frustrating for him that he couldn't remember how to get there," she recalled.
On Monday, Boston University confirmed his health problems likely were caused by CTW. Dr. Ann McKee, the director of Neuropathology Care at BU's Alzeimer's Disease Center, said evidence that he had the disease is "indisputable."
Duerson left an indelible mark on the Chicago football world. He earned All America honors at The University of Notre Dame and won a Super Bowl ring with the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Duerson went on to win another Super Bowl title with the New York Giants before retiring in 1993.