ANDERSON, Ind. – The family of former NFL player Corwin Brown said Tuesday they believe he may suffer from the same type of brain trauma as Dave Duerson, the former Chicago Bears star who committed suicide in February.
Brown was taken from his home Friday night with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a nearly seven-hour standoff with police in Granger, Ind. St. Joseph County authorities said Brown is in a secured facility receiving medical treatment and he was charged Tuesday with three felony counts for allegedly holding his wife hostage with a handgun and bruising her during the standoff. Bond was set at $50,000.
A statement released by Brown's family apologized for the disturbance and thanked the authorities for saving his life. It also painted a sobering picture of Brown, saying he had become suspicious, distant, gloomy, exhausted and depressed after playing eight seasons in the NFL.
"We believe Corwin is suffering from symptoms similar to those experienced by the late Dave Duerson and were caused by the many notable collisions during Corwin's career in the NFL," the family said. "For those reasons, Corwin chose to not disclose his symptoms, as he did not want to bring shame to any coach, team, organization or the NFL.
"We can no longer remain silent and we believe it is important that his former teams, teammates, coaches and the NFL to understand the severity of this situation."
Duerson, the safety for the 1985 Bears team that won the Super Bowl, played safety in the NFL for 11 seasons before retiring in 1993. Duerson had at least 10 concussions in his NFL career, according to his family, and he lost consciousness during some.
He committed suicide in Florida at the age of 50 after asking his family to donate his brain to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, where Dr. Robert Cantu is a co-director. The Brown family said they have reached out to Cantu to request a consultation.
Duerson had "moderately advanced" brain damage — chronic traumatic encephalopathy — related to blows to the head, according to the researcher who made the diagnosis. Cantu has said there is no treatment for CTE and research is being done to find ways to identify it in living people.
CSTE, created in 2008, is a collaboration between the Boston University School of Medicine and the Sports Legacy Institute. The center has received a $1 million gift from the NFL.
Authorities on Tuesday released the first details involving the standoff with Brown.
Melissa Brown told police her husband had been "acting irrational for some time," but things spiraled out of control on Friday as he became upset, threatened to burn her clothing and "grabbed her about the neck area."
She called 911, but told police her husband dragged her into their home, banging her head on a door frame. The couple's three children, ages 9, 11 and 14, were nearby, police said, though the two younger children fled as the incident was beginning and the oldest left without being harmed.
The couple wound up struggling for the handgun, Melissa Brown told police, and there was a shot. At that point, she was allowed to leave.
During the standoff, there was another shot and, after negotiations failed to bring Brown out, two more shots, authorities said. Brown then came out of the garage door with a gunshot wound to his torso.
"We truly are sorry for the events that unfolded Friday," the family said. "The pain and suffering experienced by our family has been overwhelming the last few days, but we are relieved and thankful that the outcome didn't come to a tragic ending."
Brown is also a former defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, where Duerson played his college ball. Brown was picked in the fourth round of the 1993 draft out of Michigan, where he was co-captain his senior year. Brown played eight seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with the Patriots, Jets and Detroit Lions, from 1993-2000.
Brown was an assistant with the New York Jets and at the University of Virginia before serving as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator from 2007 to 2009. He was fired along with most of the rest of the staff when Charlie Weis was fired. He coached defensive backs with the New England Patriots last season but was not retained.
"Many are asking, what would cause a young man who has been blessed beyond all measure, with a life so promising that he would put himself and his family in harm's way?" Brown's family said. "God kept Corwin Brown here for a reason, and we pray we find that reason."
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