Childhood & Early Life
David Russell Duerson was born on November 28, 1960, in Muncie, Indiana, to Julia Mae Leavell Duerson and Arthur Duerson Jr. He had two brothers, Arthur II and Michael, and a sister, Viola.
He attended the 'Northside High School,' where he played football, basketball, and baseball. During his high-school days, he received the 1979 'Indiana Mr. Football.'
From 1979 to 1981, Duerson did a summer internship as a law clerk in Miami, Florida. In 1982, he did a summer internship as a legislative aide to U.S. senator Richard Lugar.
He graduated from the 'University of Notre Dame' the following year, with a bachelor of science degree in economics. He also earned an 'Executive Education Program' certificate from 'Harvard Business School.'
Duerson played football for the university's team, 'Fighting Irish,' from 1979 to 1982.
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For 4 years, Duerson started for 'Fighting Irish.' He was also an 'All-American' in 1981 and 1982. He led the team as a captain and was the team's ‘MVP’ in 1982.
In 1990, the 'Notre Dame Monogram Club' presented him the 'Edward "Moose" Krause Distinguished Service Award.' He had served the club as its president. From 2001 to 2005, Duerson was a member of the 'University of Notre Dame’ board of trustees.
He was part of the 'Chicago Bears' during the third round of the 1983 ‘NFL Draft.’ He was subsequently selected for the 'Pro Bowls' for 4 consecutive years, from 1986 to 1989.
He registered two 'Super Bowl' championship rings, one for the 'Bears' (XX) in 1985 and the other for the 'New York Giants' (XXV) in 1990.
In his 1986 season, Duerson set the ‘NFL’ record of the most sacks in a season by a defensive back. The record was broken by Adrian Wilson in 2005. He also saved 6 passes for 139 yards and recorded the longest return, of 38 yards.
Toward the end of the season, 'Pro Football Weekly,' the 'Pro Football Writers Association,' and 'The Sporting News' declared him as the first-team 'All-Pro' while the 'Associated Press' declared him as the second team 'All-Pro.'
In 1987, Duerson was honored with the 'NFL Man of the Year Award.' He ended his 11-season-long football career with 20 interceptions, which he returned for 226 yards and 16 quarterback sacks. He recovered 5 fumbles, which he returned for 47 yards and a touchdown.
He was a trustee of the board of player benefits for the 'NFL Players Association,' a member of the 'PUSH Excel' board of directors, and an advisory board member of the 'Bears' alumni.
From late 1994 to April 1995, Duerson owned three ‘McDonald's’ franchise outlets in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1995, he owned major stakes in 'Fair Oaks Farms' (formerly the 'Brooks Sausage Company'), which he ultimately sold off in 2002.
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He then established 'Duerson Foods,' which supplied pork and turkey sausages to big multinational corporations such as 'Burger King,' 'White Castle,' and 'SYSCO.' The company went into receivership in 2006, and most of its assets were auctioned off.
Personal Life & Death
Duerson got married to Alicia on June 4, 1983. They divorced in 2008. They have three sons: Chase, Tregg, and Brock, and a daughter, Taylor. Following the split, he moved to the condo that he and Alicia had purchased as a second home.
He was then engaged to Antoinette Sykes, a public relations specialist from Washington.
They were to be married soon. However, before they could, on February 17, 2011, Duerson was found dead at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. According to the report of the Miami-Dade County medical examiner, he had shot himself in the chest.
Before committing suicide, he had texted his family members, telling them about his wish of donating his brain to be used for medical research. He wanted his brain to be studied at the 'Boston University School of Medicine,' which was researching on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Duerson was told that football injuries could have caused the disease and wanted to spread awareness regarding the same form of damage among other retired football players.
Duerson was well aware of his neurodegenerative disease, CTE. He knew that it could result in depression, dementia, and suicidal thoughts.
He initially noticed mild symptoms of the disease, and it eventually resulted in more serious symptoms, such as blurred vision, severe headaches, memory loss, inability to spell common words, and constant pain on the left side of the brain.
Duerson began writing everything down, noted the details of important conversations, and showed little trust in his memory.
Some traces of his deteriorating mental health became evident in February 2005, when 'Notre Dame' campus police reportedly caught him in a physical brawl with his wife at the 'Morris Inn,' inside the campus. Duerson was charged with misdemeanor (battery), and his seat on the 'Notre Dame' board of trustees was revoked.
In an interview with author Rob Trucks, Duerson labeled the incident as the biggest regret of his life.
He filed for divorce in Lake County on May 2, 2007, while Alicia filed for the same on July 8, 2008. The divorce was legally granted on September 21, 2008. They were granted the joint custody of Taylor. However, Duerson was only allowed to meet him on one weekend per month and several weeks in the summer, while the child lived with his mother. Duerson was ordered to pay monthly child support and insurance premiums.
During the interview with Trucks and according to a close family friend, Mary Ellen Hays, Duerson was deeply affected by the death of his mother (who had died 2 days before his birthday). He considered her his best friend. He lost his father on November 18, 2009.
On May 2, 2011, neurologists at 'Boston University' confirmed that Duerson had CTE, which had resulted from concussions.
Rather than going into depression because of the disorder, Duerson kept himself busy with his consulting firm, 'DD Favor,' which assisted food start-ups. He hosted a weekly internet radio show, 'Double Time with Double D,' on 'voiceamericasports.com.'
Duerson enjoyed riding motorcycles, too.