Current News



OJ Simpson feared he had CTE but his family has said a 'hard no' to brain study

Martha Ross, The Mercury News on

Published in News & Features

The body of O.J. Simpson is expected to be cremated in Las Vegas on Tuesday, with his family giving a “hard no” to requests from scientists who want to study his brain to see if the former football great and accused double-murderer suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE — as he himself suspected.

Several years before his death last week of cancer, Simpson, 76, spoke about his concerns that he had developed CTE, a degenerative brain disease, because of multiple concussions he suffered during his lauded NFL career.

“I get concerned,” Simpson said in a 2018 interview with the Buffalo News. The running back spent nine of his 11 years in the NFL playing for the Buffalo Bills. “I do recognize that it probably affects you in short-term memory more than long-term. I know with me, I have days I can’t find words. I literally cannot find words or the name of somebody I know. That gets a little scary.”

During the Buffalo News interview, while Simpson was having trouble remembering some details about an NFL player, he said, “That’s my CTE kicking in.”

Memory loss and confusion are symptoms of CTE, according to the Boston University CTE Center. So too are mood swings, impulse control problems, depression and aggression. A long-time friend of Simpson’s also wondered if the disease could explain Simpson’s alleged involvement in the 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

“If it turned out he did have CTE, that would give us some medical explanation for the violent behavior that was attributed to him after his football career,” Buffalo businessman Michael R. Militello, described as one Simpson’s closest friends, told the Buffalo News in an interview after Simpson’s death last Wednesday. “That is, violent behavior that made absolutely no sense to those of us who knew and loved O.J. as a gentle, kind, fun-loving person.”


But as much as Militello said he hoped Simpson’s family would allow a brain autopsy to confirm whether he suffered from CTE — in order to “really do some good for his fellow athletes” — that’s apparently not going to happen.

Malcolm LaVergne, Simpson’s longtime attorney and the executor of his estate, told the New York Post that he had signed off on all the paperwork for Simpson’s cremation on Tuesday and confirmed that his family didn’t want his brain to be studied. This position is unlike families of other late football stars— including Frank Gifford, Mike Webster and Ken Stabler — who consented to postmortem examinations of their brains to confirm CTE.

“With O.J. everything’s wild, but I’ve been getting calls from medical centers that are doing CTE testing asking me for O.J.’s brain . . . that is not happening,” LaVergne told The Post.

“I may consult with the children on it, but I haven’t heard anything about it, so it’s just not going to happen,” LaVergne said. “O.J. wants all of his body cremated.”


swipe to next page

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus