The words came up on Alicia Duerson’s cellphone as blithely as text messages typically do, but this one was different: her former husband, the former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson, asked her to donate his brain for research.
She texted back and heard nothing, then called their son, Tregg, who was just ending his workday as a bank analyst in Chicago. They called again and got voice mail.
The next and last message they received from Dave Duerson was meant for them, their family and perhaps all of professional football. It was written in his hurried hand, repeating his text message in case it had not been received, and found in the South Florida condominium where he placed a gun to his chest and shot himself to death last Thursday.
“Please, see that my brain is given to the N.F.L.’s brain bank.”