Long-time Chicago Bears fans received some sad news last week when it was reported that former star safety Dave Duerson had committed suicide. He was 50.

Duerson, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 1987, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Before he died, he sent a text message asking that his brain be donated to science, according to his family. 

"He had informed (his family) at some point that he wanted his brain to be studied so people could learn more about the effect of brain trauma and so kids could play the game more safely in the future," Chris Nowinski, co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine told Chicago Breaking Sports.

"The family requested that I confirm that Mr. Duerson's brain was donated to our research center, and it was Mr. Duerson's wishes," he added.

Duerson's brain will be studied for abnormalities related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in those who have a history of repetitive brain trauma, especially those involved in football, ice hockey, professional wrestling and other contact sports.

According to one doctor at the research center, this is the first time that a former player has killed himself with the specific request that his brain be examined. The study is expected to take between three to six months.

Photo: National Football League

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