Football player who killed himself did have serious brain injury

Our Miami personal injury blog previously discussed the death of former Super Bowl champ Dave Duerson who committed suicide in February. Prior to shooting himself in the chest in his Miami home, the former NFL player had sent a text message to relatives requesting that his brain matter be tested for a degenerative brain disease. He believed he was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of brain injuries he endured during his NFL career.

After his suicide, the 50-year-old’s brain was donated to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTSE). Doctors have been studying the man’s brain since then and now family members have requested that Boston University doctors make their findings public. The director of Neuropathology Care at Boston University’s Alzeimer’s Disease Center confirmed that Duerson’s brain showed “classic” and “moderately advanced” symptoms of CTE.

CTE has been reported to be common to boxers, football players and other individuals who have repeatedly experienced concussions and head injuries throughout their lives. When a significant amount of cells have been damaged due to the repeated head trauma, individuals then begin to experience symptoms of the brain injury.

Although the NFL has recently focused on improving players’ safety and health by reviewing policies regarding the treatment of concussions and game safety, the improvements have come too late for some football players. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 14 other NFL players studied at CTSE have been diagnosed with CTE.

In response to doctors’ findings, the NFL commented that they will continue to support the study of CTE and head injuries. The NFL has also donated $1 million to CTSE to help fund the research at the center.

Duerson experienced 10 known concussions during his 11-year NFL career. Prior to playing in the NFL, Duerson played football at the college level for Notre Dame. It is not known if the former Super Bowl champ suffered any concussions outside of his NFL career. In the findings, doctors reported that man’s brain was severely damaged from repeated head trauma, which affected Duerson’s judgment, inhibition impulse control, mood and memory.


Fox News: “Former NFL Star Dave Duerson Had Brain Damage at Time of Suicide,” 3 May 2011