The Bears reported the death on their Web site. Detective Robert Williams of the Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed that a man named David Duerson died in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., on Thursday, but said he did not know the cause.
Duerson won his first championship with the Bears after the 1985 season, making five interceptions in his first year as a starter in the . He was an integral part of a Bears defense that dominated opponents and helped rout the , 46-10, in .
“He stepped right in and became a starter at the strong safety position and was outstanding,” , the coach of the 1985 Bears, said on Chicago radio. “You’re talking about the whole package. You’re not talking about a guy who just covered. He forced, he tackled, he did everything.”
Duerson played for the Bears through 1989, and was selected for four straight Pro Bowls from 1985 to 1988. He had 566 tackles, 18 interceptions, 15 sacks and 7 forced fumbles with the Bears.
The Bears released Duerson at the end of the 1989 season, and he signed with the Giants. In his first season, he helped the Giants contain the ’ powerful passing game in . He ended his professional career with the Phoenix Cardinals from 1991 to 1993.
Duerson later served on a six-person board that approved claims for the N.F.L’s player-disability plan. In 2007, he clashed with Ditka after Ditka formed a group to lobby on behalf of players who said they had received inadequate benefits. Duerson complained that Ditka had not shown the same compassion for players when he was a coach.
“That’s an out-and-out lie,” Ditka responded. “He may not like me for some reason, but this is not about Duerson and Ditka. It’s about right and wrong.”
David Russell Duerson was born on Nov. 28, 1960, in Muncie, Ind. He graduated from Notre Dame, where he was a two-time all-American, with an economics degree in 1982.
The Bears picked Duerson in the third round of the 1983 draft.
Duerson owned the Brooks Sausage Company after his N.F.L. career ended. He sold the business, later called Fair Oaks Farms, in 2002 and started his own company, Duerson Foods.
Duerson was divorced. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that he is survived by four children.
Duerson’s life had deteriorated in recent years. In 2005, he resigned from the Notre Dame board of trustees after he was charged with pushing his wife, Alicia. And in 2006 he sold most of Duerson Food’s assets at auction. In 2007, the Duersons filed for divorce and their home in Highland Park, Ill., went into foreclosure, according to The Sun-Times.