Family of suicide victim hoped for more from concussion settlement
The family of an Indiana athlete who committed suicide says the new NFL concussion settlement isn't enough.
Dave Duerson grew up in Muncie and was on the Super Bowl champion Bears in 1985.
His brother, Michael, believes the league should have paid more, especially for research to protect future players on the field. Dave Duerson won't get any money from the NFL's new settlement over brain injuries, but his children will.
"Basically it means to me that my brother didn't die in vain. It's good to see some good from it, but on a personal level, I'd like to see more," said Michael Duerson.
Dave took hit after hit as a standout high school player in Muncie, then at the University of Notre Dame and eventually the NFL. In 2011, he took his own life.
He left a message for family to donate his brain to study the effects of concussions.
"That tells me that my brother had a good sense for what he thought was his problem," Michael Duerson said.
Michael Duerson understands that problem personally. He, too, suffered a life-altering concussion while playing basketball in the 1970s at IUPUI. It paralyzed him for six months and has caused lasting health issues.
After Dave's death, his family filed suit against the NFL, claiming the league hid the dangers of brain injuries, while profiting from its violence.
Now, the NFL and about 4,500 players have reached a $765 million class-action settlement.
Michael says Dave's children will get at least $4 million.
"It's not the same as having Dave back, but I hope that money helps them to address the grief that they have," Michael said.
The settlement will also pay for research into concussions. But Michael says it's just not enough to cause a real culture change in the game.
"The guys should have taken them to court and gotten three or four times as much," Michael said.
Michael is trying to do what he can personally, through the Dave Duerson Athletic Safety Fund. In honor of his brother, it works with local kids to improve safety in the game. It uses ImPACT testing for concussions, studies new, safer helmet designs and even pays medical bills from head injuries for kids without insurance.
Michael says he'd like to see the NFL take a more active role in similar research and activities across the league.
He says his brother loved the game, yet paid the ultimate price. Now, it's the future of football the Duersons would like to see made safer.
"It's been an effective way for me to deal with my grief, by working diligently to make sure that lightning doesn't strike twice in another family the way it has in ours," Michael explained.