Sunday, June 24, 2007

The demise of Dave Duerson: double trouble for "Double D"

I was a self-assured senior at Notre Dame, and he a shy freshman. "D" lived just down the hall from me in Flanner, a quiet guy who made his noise the one place it mattered most (at least to Fighting Irish football fans)—the playing field. But Dave Duerson quickly found his voice, not only going on to become an All-American defender for the Irish and an All-Star for the Chicago Bears, but a leader in the business world, a trusted trustee of Notre Dame, and a spokesman for the NFL. But lately, like a fumble that keeps bouncing the wrong way, all this seems to be slipping away from my former hallmate ...

Two years ago, to say that Dave was one of the most respected alumni of Our Lady's university would not have been an exaggeration. But after a domestic violence incident, Dave was forced to resign from Notre Dame's Board of Trustees. Then a year later, his once strong company, Duerson Foods, was forced in receivership. And neither the marital nor financial side of Duerson's story appear headed toward happy endings; his house is up for foreclosure in October, and last month he filed for divorce from his wife, after twenty-four years of marriage. Not to mention as an NFL Union rep, he is now arguing with none other than Mike Ditka about veteran's benefits.

What can be said about such a sad state of affairs, when fame at Notre Dame gives way to infamy, and faith gives way to separation. On the day when my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, it seems ironic that Fighting Irish Thomas has tackled this subject so often in recent days. From Tiger Woods to St. Thomas More, the lessons seem obvious. Whether you are skeptic or believer it is easy to be in love when the world is treating you well and the money is coming in. But can a husband still embrace his wife when life calls him a loser, and a wife still support her husband when, through no fault of his own, his money suddenly stops coming?

Rita and Jim O'Toole on their 44th wedding anniversaryToday, I will hug my parents, laugh with my brothers and kiss my sisters. We will remember the good times, but in our minds, we know that the good times weren't always there, or all there was. My dad's slow talk and walk, and my mom's forgetfulness and wheelchair are visible reminders of this—but to those with faith they are also reminders of something else. It shows it wasn't only through the fun, but through the sickness and strokes, financial failings and foreclosures, arguments and fights that they stayed together too, and their faith in God and His Holy Catholic Church was the reason why. Like Duerson (was), I am now nearly halfway to that golden anniversary, and as Led Zeppelin's epic ballad Stairway to Heaven suggests, "there are two paths you can go by." May I be humbled and sobered by the tale of Double D's woes, but always choose the way of support over separation, prayer over despair. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I'm praying for you ("there's still time to change the road you're on") Double D! And most importantly, to my wife Jeanette ... I love you!


JimAroo said...

Congratulations to the senior Mr and Mrs O! I bet on that day 50 years ago, they knew their marriage was till death parted them. Look at the blessings of their perseverance and magnanimity!

Engaged couples should look to such examples of faithfulness and steadfastness even in times of trouble. After all if you could get off the boat in a storm, Columbus would never have discovered America!

You shall know them by their fruits! Seems to me they did a 1st class job!

Kim said...

Since then Dave has done great things. Look for him on his new satellite radio sports show on Voice America Sports, starting Nov. 5 at 3PM. His website is