CHICAGO (AP) -- The family of former Bears safety Dave Duerson has agreed to donate his brain for research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition linked to athletes who have sustained repeated concussions.
Chris Nowinski at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine told the AP he was contacted by a representative of the NFL Players Association on Friday, then worked with a representative of Duerson's family.
"I can confirm that Mr. Duerson's family has agreed to donate his brain to the CSTE at BU School of Medicine," Nowinski said in an e-mail.
Duerson died Thursday in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. The native of Muncie, Ind., was a third-round draft pick by the Bears in 1983 out of Notre Dame and played 11 seasons in the NFL. He won Super Bowls with the 1985 Bears and 1990 Giants and played in four Pro Bowls.
The Chicago Tribune, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the situation, reported on its website that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the chest and that his death had been ruled a suicide.
Dr. Bruce Hyma, the chief medical examiner for Miami-Dade County, declined to comment on the case in an e-mailed response to questions from the AP. He referred inquiries to the police department. A Miami-Dade police supervisor said the department had no information to release Saturday regarding the cause of Duerson's death.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is associated with cognitive and behavioral problems later in life and eventually causes dementia. Also known as punch drunk syndrome, it has been most common in boxers. In recent years, CTE has been shown to exist in other athletes, including professional and college football players and a pro hockey player.
CSTE is a collaboration between BU Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute that's addressing what it calls the "concussion crisis" in sports. The group has been at the forefront of research into head trauma in sports and received a $1 million gift from the NFL, which it has pushed for better treatment of concussions.
Nowinski, a former pro wrestling star and football player at Harvard, is the president at the Sports Legacy Institute.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said as he arrived for labor negotiations Sunday that he didn't know details about Duerson's case.
"He's a good man," Goodell said. "It's sad."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)