Head Games: NFL Confronted By Former Players (Part 3)
Family of former Mr. Football in Indiana says football lead to severe brain injury.
The Duerson Family: Siblings Brock, Chase, Tregg and Taylor with their mother Alicia during a press conference at BU School of Medicine on May 2, 2011 announcing that former NFL player and Muncie, Indiana native David Duerson was suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Duerson committed suicide in February 2011. (Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography, Copyright:© 2011 Boston University all rights reserved)
Dave Duerson was Indiana's Mr. Football in 1979, an All-American at the University of Notre Dame, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Bears and the Giants and a successful businessman after football. But at the age of 50, after divorce and the spiralling decline of his business ventures, Dave Duerson killed himself.
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"Parts of his brain were literally evaporating day after day after day," says attorney Bill Gibbs who represents Duerson's family in the concussion lawsuit against the National Football League. "And getting worse year after year."
The man who had been the family's anchor was found, after death, to have suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative condition that destroys the brain. It results from trauma to the head like the repeated hits suffered over the course of a football career.
Gibbs says the diagnosis is possible only because the family honored Duerson's last wish that his brain be donated to the Boston University Center for the Study of CTE.
"It is our hope that through this research, questions that go beyond our interest may be answered," said son Tregg Duerson of the finding. "Questions that lead to a safer game of football."
Just last week, the NFL filed a motion for dismissal of that suit, which is now a class action joined by more than 3,000 former players and their families. The league says the court has no jurisdiction, arguing that the case falls under federal labor law.
That presumes that the NFL's responsibilites were laid out in the existing collective bargaining agreement. But Gibbs says the argument "disingenuous" because the NFL has been misleading players about the findings of its own studies of the long-term impact of head injuries.
In Friday's report, we'll consider the possible impact on the game itself.