Dave Duerson

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Dave Duerson
No. 22, 26
Position: Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1960-11-28)November 28, 1960
Place of birth: Muncie, Indiana
Date of death: February 17, 2011(2011-02-17) (aged 50)
Place of death: Sunny Isles Beach, Florida
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 202 lb (92 kg)
Career information
High school: Muncie (IN) Northside
College: Notre Dame
NFL Draft: 1983 / Round: 3 / Pick: 64
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions: 20
INT yards: 226
Sacks: 16
Player stats at NFL.com

David Russell "Dave" Duerson (November 28, 1960 – February 17, 2011) was an American football safety in the National Football League (NFL) who played for the Chicago Bears (1983–1989), the New York Giants (1990), and the Phoenix Cardinals (1991–1993). He earned significant honors during his career, including selection to four consecutive Pro Bowls for NFL seasons 1985 through 1988.

Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Following his request, his brain was sent to the Boston University School of Medicine for research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Neurologists at Boston University confirmed that Duerson had CTE as a result of the concussions he suffered during his playing career.

Early life[edit]

Duerson played football, basketball, and baseball at Muncie (Indiana) Northside High School. He was given an opportunity to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a pitcher and outfielder in 1979, but declined. Duerson received many honors during his high school years, including the 1979 Indiana Mr. Football,[1] and was part of the National Honor Society and The Musical Ambassadors All-American Band.

College career[edit]

Duerson played college football at the University of Notre Dame from 1979 to 1982.[2] He graduated with honors, with a BA in Economics. He started all four years, and earned recognition as an All-American in 1981 and 1982. He was named as his team's MVP in 1982, and a Captain. He was the winner of the Edward "Moose" Krause Distinguished Service Award in 1990 by the Notre Dame Monogram Club, of which he was a past president. He was also a member of the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2005.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Duerson was selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986 to 1989 in his career, and won two championship rings, with the Bears (Super Bowl XX, 1986), and with the Giants (Super Bowl XXV, 1991). During the 1986 season, Duerson set an NFL record that stood for 19 years (Adrian Wilson, 2005) for most sacks in a season by a defensive back, with seven. He also intercepted six passes for 139 yards with a long return of 38 yards. At season's end, Duerson was named first team All-Pro by Pro Football Weekly, the Pro Football Writers Association and The Sporting News and second team All-Pro by AP. In 1987, Duerson was the recipient of the NFL Man of the Year Award. In his 11 seasons, Duerson recorded 20 interceptions, which he returned for 226 yards, and 16 quarterback sacks. He also recovered five fumbles, returning them for 47 yards and a touchdown.

After football[edit]

Duerson owned three McDonald's restaurants in Louisville, Kentucky for six months, from late 1994 to April 1995. He purchased the majority interest in Fair Oaks Farms (formerly Brooks Sausage Company) in 1995.[3] Duerson grew the company from $24M revenue to over $63.5M in six years. He sold his stake in the company in 2002 and started Duerson Foods, but that company was forced into receivership in 2006 and most of its assets were auctioned off.[4]


Duerson was found dead at his Sunny Isles Beach, Florida[5] home on February 17, 2011. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner reported that Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.[6] He sent a text message to his family saying he wanted his brain to be used for research at the Boston University School of Medicine, which is conducting research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease, which can be caused by playing football.[7] He left behind three sons and a daughter from his marriage to ex-wife Alicia Duerson.[6]

On May 2, 2011, neurologists at Boston University confirmed that he suffered from CTE, which is linked to concussions.[8]

In popular media[edit]

Duerson is portrayed by actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in the 2015 film Concussion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "David R. Duerson". Indiana Football Hall of Fame. 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Former Irish Safety Dave Duerson Passes Away". Athletics News. University of Notre Dame. February 18, 2011. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  3. ^ Lloyd, Fonda Marie (October 1995). "We're black-owned". Black Enterprise. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ Pompei, Dan (February 18, 2011). "Ex-Bears star from '85 Super Bowl team found dead in Miami". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  5. ^ Pompei, Dan (February 18, 2011). "Bears safety Dave Duerson dead at 50". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 19, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Foley, Stephen (February 22, 2011). "Tragic NFL star's last wish could shed new light on game's risks". The Independent. London. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  7. ^ Rosenthal, Gregg (February 22, 2011). "Dave Duerson's son: "He was hoping to be a part of an answer"". Profootballtalk.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved February 26, 2011. 
  8. ^ Schwarz, Alan (May 2, 2011). "Dave Duerson Found to Have the Brain Trauma He Suspected". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]