On Nov. 27, for an oral project with Americans turning 50, writer Rob Trucks interviewed former Bears safety Dave Duerson.
In a fascinating and wide-ranging interview, Duerson told Trucks that he thought he would die at 42.
"You know, people would ask me about longevity and all that," Duerson told Trucks. "I would tell them I was going to die at 42. And I don't know what that was about, but, as it turned out, you know, I did suffer the greatest death, from my vantage point, two days before I turned 43. That was the death of my mom, you know, my absolute best friend, my biggest fan. But November 28th of '03, when I turned 43, I did realize I was likely going to make it to old age and so, from a mental perspective, I needed to get ready for things like a slowing gait and losing my step and failed health and all those types of things, whereas I'd always envisioned that I was going to go at the top of my game. I've always pictured my exit at like 75 or 80 miles an hour, and I just happen to, you know, fall asleep at the wheel or something [laughs]."
Duerson said when he turned 43, he thought, "Well, I'm still here." But his mother passed around that time, and a "redefining took place."
He talked about his high standards, and his upbringing. But, sadly, the interview will become controversial because of his perspective on his first interaction with Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.
"He knew I'd gone to Notre Dame, and he asked me if I was one of those doctors or lawyers. I said, "Yes, sir,' " Duerson said. "He said, "Well, you won't be here too long, because I don't like smart [derogatory word for African Americans]."