A foundation named after deceased former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson donated 80 concussion kits to various Chicago high school football programs on Friday.
The Dave Duerson Foundation made the contribution in the hopes of making the game safer for young athletes.
“It is our hope and duty to contribute to a safer game of football in memory of my father,” said Duerson’s son, Tregg, in a statement.
Duerson, who was a standout safety for the 1985 Chicago Bears team that captivated the nation en route to winning the Super Bowl, committed suicide on February 17, 2011 by shooting himself in the chest.
Later medical exams showed that his brain had been ravaged by chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the same trauma-induced disease that had plagued about 20 other deceased former NFL players.
Duerson, who was 50 at the time of his death, had been complaining to family members about his deteriorating mental state for months. In his final note to his family, he asked that his brain be donated to research.
Duerson’s death served as a loud wake-up call to the long-term dangers of playing football, rattling both active and former players alike.
His family is suing the NFL because they believe it hid information that showed that playing football can cause brain damage. The lawsuit alleges that Duerson suffered three concussions during his 11-year career with the Bears, the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals.
The Dave Duerson Foundation’s contribution of the kits will help coaches and football staff from Chicago’s public schools screen athletes for concussions or head injuries and help them decide if players should be pulled from a game.
In August 2011, Chicago public schools enacted a policy that prohibits its student-athletes with concussion-like symptoms from returning to competition until they are cleared by a physician or certified trainer.
The foundation plans to make sure all of Chicago’s public schools have the kits in the near future.
A former Notre Dame All-American, Duerson appeared in four consecutive Pro Bowls (1985-88) and won another Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 1991 before retiring three years later after an 11-year career.
He played on a 1985 Bears defense also featured the likes of Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, then-rookie defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry, safety Gary Fencik and stud linebackers Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall among others to rank as perhaps the greatest in NFL history.