Yesterday I reported that Dave Duerson, one of the three regular National Football League Players Association appointees on the review board for the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan, was not at the hearing in August 2010 at which a disability claim by former player Andrew Stewart was rejected.
If Duerson’s absence were the result of a routine scheduling conflict — if he had to attend a wedding the same day, for example — that would be one thing. But we now know that Duerson would commit suicide six months later and that a study of his postmortem brain tissue would show he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. So it is crucially important to determine if there is another explanation for his not having been at the Stewart review. What if Duerson suffered during this period from a flare-up of depression or general mental confusion?
Related question: How many other retirement board meetings did Duerson miss?
Writing about the Stewart case last month, FoxSports.com’s Alex Marvez quoted an unnamed fellow board trustee as defending Duerson’s performance in that role in the last five years of his life. The trustee said Duerson “never displayed impairments that reflected brain damage.” Since both this trustee and Douglas Ell, the NFL attorney who talked to Marvez for his story, knew that its focus would be on Duerson’s involvement in the Stewart matter, it seems odd that they wouldn’t have mentioned that Duerson was not present at the August 2010 meeting. (My links to and reviews of Marvez’s excellent reports are at https://concussioninc.net/?p=4415 and https://concussioninc.net/?p=4421.)
Another source who is named — NFL Player Care Foundation executive director Belinda Lerner — told Marvez “that Duerson ‘had his complete faculties working’ and ‘contributed to the conversation’ at the last trustee meeting both attended six months before his death.” What was the date of that meeting? I will ask Lerner.
Andrew Stewart (whose claims pertain to orthopedic injuries, not brain trauma) is litigating in federal court in Maryland, where some of these answers may emerge. I also invite other retired players, or anyone else with information in this area, to contact me at email@example.com.