Duerson Interview Reveals Inner Torment
Deadspin, Sports News without Access, Favor, or Discretion
On Nov. 27, I spent an hour on the phone with former Pro Bowl defensive back Dave Duerson. It had been seven years since his mother's death and 364 days since his father's burial, and the following day he would celebrate his 50th birthday. Less than three months later, he sent some text messages to his family and shot himself in the chest with a shotgun.
For a time Duerson served as a shining example of the post-career pro athlete. Named the NFL's Man of the Year for his extensive charity work, the Notre Dame grad obtained a certificate from Harvard's Executive Education program, served on his alma mater's board of trustees, and in 2003 started Duerson Foods, his own multi-million dollar meat-processing business.
But in November of that year, two days before his 43rd birthday, Duerson's mother died, and his life seemingly changed course. In February 2005 he was charged with domestic assault after pushing his wife during an argument in South Bend — "a three-second snap," he called it — and soon after he relinquished the board seat of the university he loved. Divorce and business failure followed, and this past fall the father of four filed for personal bankruptcy.
Nonetheless he was open and forthright during our discussion about his life to that point and the prospect of turning 50, an age he once believed he'd never see. Here he is, in his own words.