As most of you have read by now, Dave Duerson passed away yesterday at the relatively young age of 50. We here at Windy City Gridiron wish to give his family and friends sincerest condolences in their time of grief.
But we will not focus on his death today, but on his life. Please join us below the jump as we remember David Russell Duerson, his life, his accomplishments in college and pro athletics and so much more.
Most of us Bear fans old enough to remember Duck Hunt also remember Dave Duerson. He was an outstanding safety for the Bears from 1983 to 1989. While many remember Duerson, few seem to remember how important he was, as the SS, to the 4-6 defense. He was a capable pass rusher, outstanding against the run and a ball hawk to boot. His outstanding play was often overshadowed by the more well known players, but it was no less important. In 85, he recorded 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery and 5 interceptions, earning him his first Pro-Bowl nod. In '86, he recorded 7 sacks, 6 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries en route to his second of 4 straight Pro Bowl appearances (he was also a Pro Bowl alternate in '89, his last year as a Bear) and his first All-Pro of 3 straight acknowledgements. After 1989, Dave was released and went on to the Giants, where he won another Super Bowl ring, and the Cardinals. But he will be remembered as "Double-D" of the '85 Bears.
Dave was born to Arther Duerson Jr., a World War II veteran and General Motors employee, and Julia Mae Leavell Duerson, a caterer, in Muncie Indiana. He was a multiple sport athlete at Muncie Northside High School, playing football, basketball and baseball, all at a high level. He was named Indiana Mr Football 1979 and his sophomore basketball team was ranked 8th in the nation. But baseball was his first love.
In fact, Duerson might never have been a Bear had he accepted an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers in '79 to pitch and play outfield. It was actually Dave's father Arther who turned down the Dodgers on Dave's behalf because when he inquired about David going to college, he was told that there would be no time for college. So his father ended the conversation there, and Dave was off to the University of Notre Dame.
At Notre Dame, Duerson was a two-time All-American and set the Notre Dame record for career interception yardage (256) that has yet to be broken. In '82, he was team captain and voted team MVP. He graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Duerson entered the '83 draft and was selected in the 3rd round (64th overall) by Our Beloved Bears. Later Dave served as president of the Monogram Club, a club consisting of people who earned the athletic insignia for their achievements. Being president is a high honor. Duerson later went on to graduate from the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School's executive education program.
After his fantastic 11 years in the NFL, Dave settled into business life, and achieved success there as well. He briefly owned several McDonald's franchises in Kentucky, then bought majority interest in Fair Oaks Farms, the primary sausage supplier to McDonald's. In the seven years that he served as President and CEO, the breakfast sausage supplier saw it's sales triple. Duerson sold his interest in Fair Oaks in 2002 and in 2003, in partnership with Johnsonville Sausages, Duerson Foods plant opened. In true Chicago fashion, his company supplies pork sausage products to Burger King, White castle and many others. And he rocked one hell of a mustache, as you can see in the photo.
His charitable contributions are many, owning and founding two substance abuse programs, promoting Special Olympics, offering free football camps in Chicago and Muncie that teach football fundamentals while promoting the importance of education and teaching kids about substance abuse prevention, serving as Chairman of the Board for the Dave Duerson Foundation (an organization which provides support for students pursuing entrepreneurial studies), giving his time as a member of Notre Dame's athletic mentoring program, and serving as a national trustee for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He was the NFL's Man of the Year in '87, the NFL's Humanitarian of the Year in '88 and Notre Dame's Monogram Club Member of the Year in '90.
In addition to all of this, he served as advisor to several schools and educational clubs, as a member of the Board of Directors for Carthage College, as the president and co-founder of a marketing and research company, as a member of the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees, the director of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's Chicago chapter.
Dave also hosted the radio program Double Time with Double D.
This is the way we chose to remember Dave "Double D" Duerson. As a successful athlete, a successful business man and a true humanitarian. He is survived by his ex-wife Alicia and their four children.
Again, our heart-felt condolences go out to his family and friends. Dave will be missed and remembered fondly.