Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist who first identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy, says he "would bet my medical license" that OJ Simpson has CTE. The degenerative brain disease, likely caused by repeated blows to the head, often afflicts football players, but cannot be identified until after death. It can cause "explosive, impulsive behavior, impaired judgment, criminality, and even mood disorders," ABC News reports. And while Omalu—subject of the Will Smith movie Concussion—says CTE can't be blamed for Simpson's criminal behavior (he's currently in prison for armed robbery), he still thinks we can learn from Simpson's life.
"I think because of our intoxication with football we are in some type of delusional denial. But that is how serious this is," he says, noting that Simpson "was exposed to thousands of blunt force trauma of his brain." Simpson is believed to have one of the biggest heads of an NFL player, and Omalu adds to People, "If you have a bigger head that means your head is heavier. That means the momentum of your impact would be bigger. It's basic physics." While appealing his sentence for armed robbery, Simpson's attorney actually filed a sworn statement noting that Simpson had suffered "numerous blows to my head and/or landed on my head violently," though the defense team didn't end up pursuing that angle, ESPN reported at the time. (An ex-NFL player who died at 27 had CTE.)