Former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, a two-time Super Bowl champion, had brain damage related to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide in February, a researcher said on Monday.
Ann McKee said it was “indisputable” that Duerson had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder linked to blows to the head.
The findings were announced as part of research conducted by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
The center has received a US$1 million gift from the NFL and has encouraged the league to improve its treatment of concussions received in the often-violent game.
The center’s Brain Bank has the brains of more than 70 athletes and military veterans.
Duerson had left a note asking that his brain be donated for scientific study. He was 50 years old when he shot himself in the chest at his Miami-area home, where his body was found on Feb. 17.
“Dave Duerson had classic pathology of CTE and no evidence of any other disease,” McKee said, adding that the condition affected brain structures involved in such things as judgement, inhibition, impulse control, mood and memory.
“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,” McKee said.