Friends, family remember ex-Bears star Duerson
Saturday, February 26, 2011; 4:30 PM
CHICAGO -- Family and friends remembered former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson as a generous man whose caring nature belied his reputation as a ferocious hitter on the 1985 Chicago Bears championship team.
They attended a packed memorial for Duerson at a southside Chicago church on Saturday.
A four-time Pro Bowl pick who played on Super Bowl winners with the Bears and New York Giants, Duerson committed suicide last week at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. He was 50.
Duerson's death rocked former teammates and coaches, who recently said he had seemed to be in good spirits after going through financial problems and a divorce the past few years. At a reunion of the 1985 Bears championship team a few months ago, he told them he was planning to get married again in April and seemed optimistic about his future.
His youngest son, Brock, gave one of several eulogies on Saturday, along with 1985 Bears teammate Otis Wilson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
"My dad, Dave Duerson, was a kind and generous man who believed in helping others," Brock said. "Who would ever think that a small-town boy from Muncie, Ind., would become such a success in sports, academics and business. I'm extremely proud to be a Duerson."
The New York Times reported that Duerson had sent text messages to his family asking that his brain be examined for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease tied to depression, dementia and suicide.
His brain was donated to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine and was to undergo studies looking for any disease or abnormality but focused on CTE, which has been found in numerous athletes.
Brock Duerson said after the service that the family will start a charity to help athletes deal with mental illness. He said the family won't get the results of the brain tests for three to six months.
Duerson starred at Notre Dame before getting drafted by the Bears in the third round in 1983.
Two years later, with Todd Bell sitting out the season in a contract dispute, he became a starter on one of the greatest defenses ever assembled.
"It was real joy to work with Dave," Wilson said. "He couldn't do anything halfway."