Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
Posted 10:13 a.m. Updated 1:20 p.m.
By John Mullin
Dave Duerson, the Notre Dame All-American safety who went on to win Super Bowls as a member of the 1985 Bears and 1990 New York Giants, was found dead in his Miami home Thursday night at age 50, the Dade County (Fla.) coroner confirmed.
The cause of death was not immediately released.
Its very sad, it really is, said Mike Ditka. Its a sad time to see that. I know his life changed a little bit. I didnt know anything that would be preying on his mind that way. He was a truly nice guy, he really was.
Former teammate Shaun Gayle talked with Duerson from time to time but was at a loss for words Friday.
Submit your condolences, memories
I just dont know what to say, Gayle said. Its just such a sad, sad day.
Said Richard Dent, who arrived in the same draft with Duerson: Its just so unfortunate. Im just speechless right now. Its very hard to take.
Duerson, from Muncie,Ind., won his job alongside Gary Fencik despite not being a favorite of then-coordinator Buddy Ryan, who did not let Duerson forget that Ryan considered the absent Todd Bell his better in the deep secondary.
But Duerson, a third-round pick in the Bears legendary 1983 draft, set a record for sacks by a defensive back with 7 in 1986, was voted to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986-89 and was named as the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1987. He was released by the Bears after the 1989 season, played for Bill Parcells with the Giants and finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals from 1991-93.
He was a hell of a football player and we knew that when we drafted him out of Notre Dame, Ditka said. He came at the right time because that was the year that Todd Bell didnt come in.
Dave stepped right in and became a starter and played the position as well as anybody. He was a big part of that 85 defense. Gary was the leader of the secondary and Dave was a leader in his own way. He did a great job with the players association, representing the team and his teammates.
Duerson went into business after football, acquiring several McDonalds franchises and eventually purchased a sausage manufacturer which he renamed Fair Oaks Farms. He was able to more than double the sales of the business, sold his interests and founded Duerson Foods.
That business foundered, however, and ultimately went into receivership in 2006. Duerson subsequently filed for divorce from wife Alicia in 2007 and was forced to relinquish his spot on the Notre Dame Board of Trustees after a domestic battery incident.
Our family asks that you remember Dave as a good, kind and caring man, Alicia told NBCChicago.com. He loved and cherished his family and friends and was extremely proud of his beloved Notre Dame andthe Chicago Bears.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.