Friends, family members gather to remember ex-Bears star Duerson

CHICAGO — Otis Wilson remembered the long days on the golf course with Dave Duerson.

It wasn't necessarily that they were spraying shots all over the place. It was that his old teammate always had something on his mind, particularly his children.

"Dave was just so proud of you guys," Wilson said during his eulogy Saturday, looking right at Duerson's three sons and daughter.

That's how Wilson chose to remember Duerson on Saturday — not as the hard-hitting safety who terrorized receivers, not as the guy who helped that legendary 1985 Chicago Bears shuffle to the championship, and certainly not as the man who took his own life last week.

To the friends and family who jammed a Southside Chicago church for his memorial, he was simply a kind and generous man whose caring nature belied his reputation as a ferocious hitter.

A four-time Pro Bowl pick who played on Super Bowl winners with the Bears and New York Giants, Duerson committed suicide at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. He was 50.

Duerson's death rocked former teammates and coaches, who recently said he had seemed to be in good spirits after going through financial problems and a divorce the past few years. At a reunion of the 1985 Bears championship team a few months ago, he told them he was planning to get married again in April and seemed optimistic about his future.

His youngest son, Brock, gave one of several eulogies on Saturday, along with Wilson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"My dad, Dave Duerson, was a kind and generous man who believed in helping others," Brock said. "Who would ever think that a small-town boy from Muncie, Indiana, would become such a success in sports, academics and business? I'm extremely proud to be a Duerson."

Wilson remembered Duerson as a guy who would "give the shirt off his back."

And Jackson, a friend, said, "At the end of the day, you're measured by the box score. ... When you look at the box, Dave was a winner."

Right to the end, his friends and relatives said. The way they see it, the fact that he made sure his brain would be donated for research shows who he really was.

It will be tested by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine with the focus on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative disease tied to depression, dementia and suicide. The condition has been found in numerous athletes.

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