Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who killed himself in February, had traumatic brain damage, according to tests done by the Boston University School of Medicine.
“When you look at the brain microscopically, it’s indisputable,” Dr. Ann McKee of the university’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy said at a news conference. “He has the classic appearance of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.”
Duerson, who at age 50 shot himself in the chest, had at least 10 concussions in an 11-year National Football League career and showed symptoms of brain injury such as worsening short-term memory and problems with impulse control, doctors said at the news conference. He left a note reading “Please see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”
The NFL last year gave $1 million to the center. Commissioner Roger Goodell said the U.S.’s most-popular sports league hopes that more research can help detect, prevent and treat brain injuries.
More needs to be done to educate current players on the risk of brain injury, to enact rule changes to make the game safer and to help those affected by conditions related to head trauma, said Bruce Laird, a former NFL defensive back with the Baltimore Colts and San Diego Chargers, and president of Fourth and Goal, an organization dedicated to helping retired NFL players in need.
“Research must continue and remedies must be enacted,” Laird said in a news release.
Duerson, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, helped the Bears and New York Giants to Super Bowl championships. He finished an 11-year career with 20 interceptions.