Dave Duerson had brain damage when he killed himself, examination concludes


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Dave Duerson, a former NFL player who committed suicide in February, had left a request with relatives that he wanted his brain tissues examined. That examination has been concluded and its results probably will come as no surprise.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine announced Monday that Duerson had brain damage at the time of his death.


Although these kinds of results are normally published before being announced, center co-director Dr. Robert Cantu said at Monday’s news conference, Duerson’s family wanted to release them earlier.

[Updated at 12:41 p.m.: Dr. Ann McKee, the researcher who made the diagnosis, said Duerson had “moderately advanced” brain damage related to blows to the head and that ‘it’s indisputable’ that Duerson had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is linked to repeated brain trauma.

“Dave Duerson had classic pathology of CTE and no evidence of any other disease,” McKee said, “and he has severe involvement of all the [brain] structures that affect things like judgment, inhibition, impulse control, mood and memory.”

She added: “The likelihood is that if he hadn’t had the CTE, he wouldn’t have developed those symptoms that he was experiencing at the end of his life and perhaps he wouldn’t have been compelled to end his life.”

The 50-year-old Duerson was at his home in Florida when he shot himself in the chest -- “presumably” to preserve his brain for study, said Chris Nowinski, co-director of the CSTE.]

In his 11 seasons as an NFL safety, Duerson made four Pro Bowl appearances and won a Super Bowl with the 1985 Chicago Bears.



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The Associated Press contributed to this report.