He remained active in the union and served as a trustee on the NFL Players Association’s retirement board. He clashed with Ditka over the way former players’ claims were distributed, but the coach said they eventually made up.
Duerson was also involved in several businesses after his career.
He owned a few McDonald’s franchises and later helped to grow a company that supplied fast-food restaurants. He left to start his own company in 2002.
His life took some hard turns in the years that followed, though. His food-supply company was forced into receivership in 2006, and Duerson filed for divorce from his wife Alicia a year later. He lost his Chicago-area home to foreclosure and his position as Notre Dame trustee after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.
His brother Mike Duerson, 52, said after the memorial that he’s donating his brain to the same Boston clinic. He said he’s had health problems since playing college basketball his freshman year at IUPUI. He said he got a concussion after taking a charge and was paralyzed on his left side for six months.
“I’ve been diagnosed with just about everything _ they call it alphabet soup, as far as psychological problems,” Mike Duerson said.
He said he hopes something positive comes out of his brother’s death.
“I don’t know if it’s a wake-up call for the NFL, but it may be for colleges,” he said.