Suicide of a former NFL player brings the issue of head trauma into a disturbing new light

Feb 22, 2011
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Dave Duerson was an 11-year safety with the Chicago Bears, selected for the Pro Bowl four times and a businessman who grew a food company into a multimillion-dollar success. At 50-years-old Duerson shot himself in the chest last Thursday, committing suicide in such a way that his brain would be intact and available for ongoing medical research on the long-term consequences of head trauma suffered by NFL players. The question of the lasting damage of concussions has been gaining traction among the league, players and researchers but Duerson’s suicide and his request that his brain be sent to Boston University for research clarifies the issue in a startling way. The average life span of an NFL player is around 56 years of age, a byproduct of years of physical abuse that players put themselves through, and the health issues that players must endure after their careers is getting increasing attention. Could Duerson’s suicide change the way the NFL handle concussions or is the attraction to big, hard hits to key to the league’s success to change?

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