Karen Schneider Kirner | Friday, February 25, 2011
In light of Dave Duerson’s passing, former Notre Dame football superstar and member of the Board of Trustees, it’s clear that Notre Dame should lead the way in finding ways to make football more safe for our players. There is no question that the sport has made a tremendous impact on Notre Dame and the greater community, but at what risk to the players? With Duerson’s death, he was clearing making a plea for someone to investigate how repeated head trauma through football led to his mental decline. I think most of us realize there is a price these players are paying, but at what overall cost? A question many are asking is if Duerson had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease found posthumously in about 20 retired players and a disease linked to depression, cognitive impairment and occasionally suicide. Before committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest, Duerson left a handwritten note as well as a text message, asking that his brain be donated to the NFL’s brain bank.
As a Feb. 23rd New York Times article mentioned, “Dave Duerson was a leader, a doer and a giver.” Notre Dame owes it to Dave and other players who have sacrificed much to give Notre Dame glory, to investigate the effects of repeated head trauma and ways we can make the often-brutal sport less costly to our players. What makes Notre Dame special is that we are a community that cares about each other. It’s time to address this pertinent issue before this tragic situation repeats itself.
Karen Schneider Kirner