In 2015, Dr. Bennet Omalu exposed a highly dangerous, degenerative brain disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Now, more than 20 years after millions watched the controversial court decision where O.J. Simpson was found innocent, Dr. Omalu is willing to bet his medical license that Simpson is suffering from this brain disease.
The movie, Concussion, which was released this past winter and was inspired by forensic pathologist Dr. Omalu, broadcast the extreme dangers associated with this disease. It is commonly found among professional football players exposed to many intense head hits, but it is undiagnosable until after death.
Simpson, a former Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer, was one of the most famous running backs in NFL history and the first to gain over 2,000 yards in a season. He played in the National Football League for 11 years, and prior to his professional football career, Simpson won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Southern California.
His well-known career came to an abrupt end in 1995 when he was put on trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman. Aired on live television, millions of people watched as the verdict was determined. Although Simpson was found not guilty of the murders, the case was not closed without altercations and controversies.
In 2008, Simpson was once again brought to court, this time facing trial for charges of armed robbery and kidnapping. Simpson considered using “the defense that concussions he allegedly sustained during his 11 years in the NFL could have contributed to his actions,” and his lawyers jumped on board, attempting to gain a retrial because of it, reported People.
The retrial was not granted, but while research regarding brain diseases and concussions continues to be released, the idea that Simpson’s concussive past can be in part to blame for his actions is being taken seriously and looked at in a deeper light.
CTE cannot be diagnosed until after death due to the need for direct tissue examination, including full autopsies, to determine the appropriate diagnosis. Still, Dr. Omalu finds Simpson’s actions and NFL past make it very likely that Simpson does in fact suffer from this progressive, degenerative disease.
This year, FXNOW released a TV series, The People v. O.J. Simpson, which details the events surrounding his murder trial, including the white Bronco chase. This controversial FX original series has brought up much controversy with the people involved, including the family of Nicole Brown Simpson and the Kardashians. It has also provided Dr. Omalu with the platform to publicly further his research of CTE.
Just this past week, Dr. Omalu claimed “mostly that if you’ve played pro football, there’s a 90 to 100 percent chance that you’ll have some form of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy,” reported Peter King. Dr. Omalu was fully aware that making this severe statement would cause an uproar in the professional football league, just as his movie, Concussion, has already done. He is not threatened by the NFL and will do whatever it takes to inform people of this serious brain disease.
As far as O.J. Simpson is concerned, there is no definite way to determine, at this point, whether or not he has this disease. But the widow of a former NFL player who not only knew O.J. Simpson, but also watched her husband suffer with CTE, assuredly said, “You just cannot tell me that O.J. isn’t afflicted by this,” reported People.