Dave Duerson dedicated his life to players’ rights. From the end of his rookie season when he was elected the Bears Alternate Player Rep, he fought for players—past, present and future. In 2011, Duerson tragically chose to take his own life, leaving his last wish in texts to his family -- that his brain be dedicated to science, specifically to assess the life-long neurological effects of playing professional football.
Duerson’s 11-year NFL career was full of on-field accomplishments. The safety was selected to four consecutive Pro Bowls, voted All-Pro three times and won two Super Bowls. Off the field, he was just as active. His experience standing on many picket lines with his father, who was an active member of the United Automobile Workers, no doubt influenced his union work.
The former University of Notre Dame standout served as the Player Rep for the Bears and the New York Giants. He was an Executive Committee member during his time with the Arizona Cardinals later in his career, and even acted as one of the named plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that helped bring free agency to the NFL in 1993. He was selected as the 1987 NFL Man of the Year, and in 1988 he was awarded the NFLPA Humanitarian of the Year award. Even after his career, Duerson continued his involvement with the NFLPA as a Trustee of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan.
Duerson’s commitment to assist future generations has helped make professional football a safer game and the NFL a fairer league.