Reports: Dave Duerson death a suicide

CHICAGO -- Former Bears safety Dave Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, according to multiple reports, and the co-director of a medical school program tells The Associated Press his family has agreed to donate his brain for research.

Duerson's body was found Thursday in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.

NBC 5 in Chicago confirmed with the Miami-Dade County medical examiner that Duerson died of a gunshot wound to his chest. Dr. Bruce Hyma, the chief medical examiner for Miami-Dade County, declined to comment on the case in an e-mailed response to questions from the AP. He referred inquiries to the police department. A Miami-Dade police supervisor said the department had no information to release Saturday regarding the cause of Duerson's death.

Chris Nowinski, part of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, confirmed to the AP that Duerson's brain has been donated to the study.

"I can confirm that Mr. Duerson's family has agreed to donate his brain to the CSTE at BU School of Medicine," Nowinski said in an e-mail.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy is a collaborative venture between BU Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute that's addressing what it calls the "concussion crisis" in sports. The group has been at the forefront of research into head trauma in sports and received a $1 million gift from the NFL, which it has pushed for better treatment of concussions.

According to the center's website, use of the Brain Bank includes research into "the cause, progression, and characteristics" of a degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

A native of Muncie, Ind., Duerson was a third-round draft pick by the Bears in 1983 out of Notre Dame and played 11 seasons in the NFL. He won Super Bowls with the 1985 Bears and 1990 Giants, and played in four Pro Bowls.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.