CHICAGO (CBS) — The family of former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson said Thursday that the Super Bowl champion would still be alive today, if not what they claim was an NFL conspiracy to cover up the dangers of concussions.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez repoprts Duerson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL, claiming the league knew about the dangers of concussions and concealed them from Duerson and other players to keep them playing.
Duerson committed suicide last year at the age of 50. He donated his brain to Boston University School of Medicine for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to repeated concussions.
“My dad donated his brain as his last plea. We feel as though we’re taking that to the next level, to the next process,” Tregg Duerson said Thursday. “We believe that he would have wanted us to pursue this and, because of that belief, we feel obligated to do so.”
Those studies on Duerson’s brain showed advanced brain damage.
Duerson’s family said, by the time Duerson hit age 40, the mild-mannered father of four began to deteriorate mentally. He had violent headaches, short-term memory loss, and could no longer control his impulses.
They said the NFL knew of the dangers, yet Duerson – who suffered at least three concussions in his career, and possibly many more – was routinely thrown back on the field.
Duerson’s family spoke out about their lawsuit Thursday at the law offices of Corboy & Demetrio, which is representing them in their case against the NFL.
The suit claims Duerson was never warned about the risks of serious injuries, nor was he ever treated or counseled after he suffered any of his concussions.
Their attorney William Gibbs said, with 1.7 million teenagers now playing high school football, the family hopes their lawsuit will raise awareness about the danger of concussions, and convince the NFL to take action.
“Prevent them if you can; to any extent possible, prevent them. Recognize them when they happen and appropriately treat and monitor the ramifications of a concussion so that there isn’t a lifelong effect,” Gibbs said.
The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 in damages, standard for wrongful death lawsuits. If the case goes to trial, a jury would decide how much, if anything, the NFL should pay.
The family acknowledged football is a dangerous game, and injuries are going to occur. But they said getting players information and appropriate treatment could save them and their families from the heartbreak the Duersons have suffered.