Dave Duerson found dead at 50

Updated: February 19, 2011, 2:19 AM ET
ESPNChicago.com

Dave Duerson, a starting safety on the 1985 Chicago Bears team that won the Super Bowl, was found dead in his Miami home, the team said Friday. He was 50.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Robert Williams says the body of a Dave Duerson was found Thursday in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. Computer records show that the Duerson who lived at the address was born the same month and year as the player.

Investigators have not determined the cause of death. Williams says detectives are awaiting the medical examiner's report.

"Our family asks that you please remember Dave as a good, kind, and caring man," Duerson's ex-wife, Alicia Duerson, said, according to NBCChicago.com. "He loved and cherished his family and friends and was extremely proud of his beloved Notre Dame and ... Chicago Bears. Please keep Dave and our family in your prayers."

The Bears selected Duerson in the third round of the 1983 draft after an All-America career at Notre Dame.

He became a full-time starter for the 1985 "Super Bowl Shuffle" team that was known for its dominating defense. That team finished the regular season 15-1 and had two shutouts in the playoffs before dismantling the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl.

"We really liked him a lot," former Bears coach Mike Ditka said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "That was the year that Todd Bell and [Al] Harris held out. [Duerson] stepped right in and became a starter at the strong safety position and was outstanding. Did a great, great job."

He was selected to four Pro Bowls from 1986 to 1989. He had seven sacks and six interceptions in 1986.

"We are stunned and saddened to hear the tragic news regarding Dave Duerson," the Bears said in a statement. "He was a great contributor to our team and the Chicago community. Today is a difficult day for all of us who loved Dave. We'll miss him. Our prayers are with his family."

Duerson left the Bears after the 1989 season and was part of the 1990 New York Giants team that also won a Super Bowl.

He played three more seasons for the Cardinals before retiring at age 33. He finished with 20 interceptions in his career.

After football, Duerson owned Brooks Sausage Company, later called Fair Oaks Farms, which supplied sausage to fast-food restaurants. He sold the business in 2002.

Duerson was born and raised in Muncie, Ind., where he was a standout in football, baseball and basketball. He earned a degree in economics from Notre Dame.

Emery Moorehead, a tight end on the '85 team, said: "He was a man's man. Smoked cigars. Just a personable guy. ... He had a lot of people that loved him everywhere."

"Our hearts go out to the Duerson family and to all those who knew Dave," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "In addition to being a great football player, Dave represented himself and the University in so many other ways as a team captain, as well as through his work with the Monogram Club and the Board of Trustees. You couldn't help but be impressed by him when you met Dave Duerson, and I think that was the reaction from anyone who was ever around him."

Ray Ellis, the sports channel director at Voice America Sports, where Duerson had a weekly radio show streamed live over the Internet, said he tried reaching Duerson on Thursday when he didn't host his regular program.

Friday morning, a friend informed Ellis of Duerson's death.

"If you looked at him visually, Dave Duerson looked like he could play strong safety today," Ellis said.

He added that Duerson recently told him he'd gotten engaged and planned to marry in late spring or early summer.

Ellis said Duerson's show wasn't typical sports talk. He talked about a range of subjects and liked to highlight athletes' accomplishments and good work off the field.

"There was so much more to Dave than being a former Chicago Bear," Ellis said. "Dave took pride in his accomplishments off the field."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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