Skip to content

Omalu would bet his medical license that O.J. has CTE


From an awkward intersection in the entertainment world, with the Concussion film ending its theatrical run and heading toward an expected April DVD release and an FX series on the O.J. Simpson murder case set to debut this week, comes a Bill Frist-style effort in armchair diagnosis: Dr. Bennet Omalu tells ABC News he would bet his medical license that O.J. Simpson has Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

Actually, it’s a fairly safe bet, given that Simpson played high school, college, and professional football years before the fairly recent sensitivity to CTE — and given that so many former pro football players from every era have been diagnosed with it upon their passing.

But here’s the reality. As a matter of medical science, no one knows yet what it means to have CTE. While it’s obviously better to not have it, the notion that having it automatically means the player is destined to live a shorter life and/or suffer cognitive issues during it has not yet been established.

Omalu deserves credit for discovering CTE, and for forcing the NFL to take the issue of head trauma more seriously. But with so many members of the general public not versed in the nuances of the disease (and with the medical community perhaps decades from connecting the disease and degrees of it to specific symptoms and behavior), it’s risky to throw out as speculation the three-letter diagnosis, especially when it comes to the most notorious two-initial athlete of our time.

Apart from the possibility that some will suggest that CTE in some way explains or excuses Simpson’s behavior (and, yes, in the eyes of the California civil justice system he killed two people), linking CTE to someone like Simpson has a potentially stigmatizing effect on other former NFL players. Already, many former players obsess over the possibilities that their brains are ticking time bombs. Eventually, people who interact with former pro football players will start thinking that, too.

This isn’t about the debate raging between the War on Football crowd and those who genuinely would like to see it diminish. This is about ensuring that proper care is taken to prevent the average person from thinking that CTE potentially turns former football players into sociopaths — and from likewise thinking that every former football player must have CTE.

Permalink 48 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, Rumor Mill
48 Responses to “Omalu would bet his medical license that O.J. has CTE”
  1. chawk12thman says: Jan 30, 2016 10:24 PM

    Would be possible defense for O.J. murderous actions, except he already had a better one; “if the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit.”

  2. boyzroll says: Jan 30, 2016 10:25 PM

    Why drag Bill Frist into this?
    Oh, never mind.
    Frist = Republican.
    Republicans = Bad.
    Very important point.

  3. helicopterpilot13 says: Jan 30, 2016 10:32 PM

    Not guilty.

  4. nothingbuttthetruth says: Jan 30, 2016 10:39 PM

    You final paragraph is ridiculous. Dr. Omalu isn’t pretending to say either of those things. He’s simple providing the first, reasonable explanation of how this beloved, rational and high-professional sports figure/media personality could suddenly turn into a maniacal double-murderer. And, you have to admit, his theory makes a lot of sense.

  5. neworleansnice says: Jan 30, 2016 10:46 PM

    I hope the research to establish the clear links between CTE and trauma to the brain become more clear cut quickly. The links to the problems it causes behaviorally and cognitively then need to be established so that effective treatment will follow as soon as possible. Most trauma to the brain interrupts or cuts off oxygen to the brain. Strokes and injuries to the brain are helped by maintaining blood flow and oxygen to the brain. It would seem logical that high pressure oxygen treatments, hyperbarics , would be helpful to any athlete receiving a concussion or like insult to the brain. Treatments have been tried 15-40 years after their initial injury as a last ditch effort to some athletes and drowning victims with varying degrees of success. It would seem logical that treating any type of injury as soon as possible after the injury occurs- within minutes or hours-with high oxygen therapy for several days could be very beneficial. It certainly cannot be a negative to have more oxygen to the brain after a concussion or injury, can it?

  6. rugolin says: Jan 30, 2016 10:56 PM

    It needs to be pointed out the assertion in the article about “discovering CTE”. Dr. Omalu did not discover the condition or name it. I wonder why the media keeps making that incorrect statement over and over again.

    “It’s just not true, and I think he knows that,” said William Stewart, a neuropathologist at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.”Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been around for decades. It’s not a new term,” Stewart said. “The only thing I would say that Bennet has done is that he identified it in an American footballer.”

    Originally studied in boxers in the 1920s as dementia pugilistica, the seminal work on the disease came from British neurologist Macdonald Critchley, who in 1949 wrote a paper entitled: “Punch-drunk syndromes: the chronic traumatic encephalopathy of boxers.”

    By Webster’s death in 2002, the disease had been diagnosed not just in individual boxers but in rugby and soccer players, epileptics and others with illnesses that resulted in head-banging, and an alcoholic circus clown who was knocked unconscious a dozen times as the subject of a dwarf-tossing routine.

    “(Omalu) must know that this pathology existed for many decades before,” said Stewart, the Scottish researcher. “Otherwise he wouldn’t know what to be looking for.”

  7. jerlee7 says: Jan 30, 2016 11:13 PM

    I invent a disease that can’t be proved until you die just like…….:… Wait every other medical condition is diagnosable in the living. I was robbed of an Oscar. #boycotteverything!

  8. THX 138 says: Jan 30, 2016 11:17 PM


  9. thehatefulnerd says: Jan 30, 2016 11:26 PM

    Lots of guys have CTE. They still don’t decapitate their ex wives.

    Then again, OJ was found not guilty of that crime.

  10. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 30, 2016 11:29 PM

    nothingbuttthetruth says:
    Jan 30, 2016 10:39 PM
    You final paragraph is ridiculous. Dr. Omalu isn’t pretending to say either of those things. He’s simple providing the first, reasonable explanation of how this beloved, rational and high-professional sports figure/media personality could suddenly turn into a maniacal double-murderer. And, you have to admit, his theory makes a lot of sense.


    You assume that because he played football that he wasn’t plum crazy beforehand.

  11. blackandbluedivision says: Jan 30, 2016 11:32 PM

    $$$ and football doesn’t cure crazy.

    Just because he was an idol doesn’t mean he didn’t have problems in his personal life. Not saying that he doesn’t have CTE (won’t know until after he’s dies), just saying that people do crazy stuff all the time.

  12. moses74 says: Jan 30, 2016 11:36 PM

    Boy, O.J.’s face is simply priceless in this article lol. Nice one Editor, I was rolling

  13. namriverrat69 says: Jan 30, 2016 11:44 PM

    I would have hoped they would be focused on helping players with CTE rather than focus on the general public understanding it as stated in the last paragraph.

    So, CTE initially causes people to become irrational and beat the wife e.g. OJ. Then as it progresses he beats the wife more and more. Then after she divorces him CTE takes over his personality causing him to cut off his ex-wife’s head and stab to death an innocent guy who happens to be bringing her the sunglasses she left in the restaurant he works in.

    That makes him totally unaccountable for any violent actions he commits. All contact sports athletes can commit any violence and they are not responsible because CTE is the culprit.

    Makes compete sense to me.

  14. seahawksbmx says: Jan 30, 2016 11:51 PM

    Didn’t Orenthal crash down a flight of stairs in his wheelchair in The Naked Gun?
    If he does indeed have CTE, let’s not automatically assume that football is to blame.

  15. CaJonMcChicken says: Jan 31, 2016 12:12 AM

    Tell the truth!

  16. davikes says: Jan 31, 2016 12:14 AM

    “You final paragraph is ridiculous. Dr. Omalu isn’t pretending to say either of those things. He’s simple providing the first, reasonable explanation of how this beloved, rational and high-professional sports figure/media personality could suddenly turn into a maniacal double-murderer. And, you have to admit, his theory makes a lot of sense.”

    No it doesn’t. Cocaine makes sense.

  17. pg99bassist says: Jan 31, 2016 1:00 AM

    neworleansnice… Actually it’s very bad. It’s called Oxygen Toxicity. If a person is exposed to higher amounts of oxygen, especially at lower or higher atmospheric pressures that the human body is accustomed to (like in a hypobaric chamber) it can poison you. The first things to start to fail are the central nervous system and the eyes. It’s also catastrophically painful. Not to say you are wrong… Just stating that the nervous system is so sensitive that even things like too much oxygen or water is damaging. The ‘noggin is a fickle beast…

  18. luxinterior78 says: Jan 31, 2016 1:36 AM

    Though I don’t suffer from CTE, I was in a coma for 17 days due to acute encephalopathy. Over two years later I still experience the effects, and I can only imagine what years of continuous impact would do. Especially from the times where head injuries weren’t paid so much attention to. Scary stuff!

  19. jonathankrobinson424 says: Jan 31, 2016 1:45 AM

    …….Oh so it’OK he slaughtered two prople since he MAY have CTE?….lets just crack open his head now to confirm……

  20. mutantman87 says: Jan 31, 2016 1:50 AM

    Establishing a dose-response relationship between CTE severity and frequency/severity of negative health effects would go a long ways towards a more robust risk assessment.

  21. ufanforreal says: Jan 31, 2016 2:04 AM

    Well that pic proves that jail food is bad for your health.

  22. ivanpavlov0000 says: Jan 31, 2016 2:11 AM

    There’s a war on football? I think we need a war on the war on football. And we need to win that war before someone starts a war on the war on the war on football.

    The fact that OJ murdered (practically beheaded) Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman is his legacy. If his brain gets tortured by CTE than I’m glad.

  23. xxakshunxx says: Jan 31, 2016 2:58 AM

    Even if he does the nfl will tamper with any evidence enough to dispute it

  24. samsonight1010 says: Jan 31, 2016 3:35 AM

    Many people who have never touched a football or bumped their heads on anything committed crimes of passion in the heat of the moment. Also, OJ is a killer in more than just the eyes of the California civil system, he committed a double murder in the eyes of anybody who isn’t blind.this would be more of an explanation of why he may have stolen his memorabilia.

  25. Rolo Tomassi says: Jan 31, 2016 5:48 AM

    Chicken or the egg

  26. theshotdoctor says: Jan 31, 2016 6:44 AM

    Not guilty, per the California Criminal Justice System. Civil has less burden of proof. It’s simply a hanging jury process to get some money. That man could not physically kill two younger, faster people. Ludicrous idea.

  27. olefballcoach says: Jan 31, 2016 7:19 AM

    OJ was found liable in a court of law. He was found not guilty in another court of law. He is trash and guilty as hell!!

  28. abninf says: Jan 31, 2016 7:31 AM

    CTE is becoming like global warming. Blame it for everything.

  29. billytodd2013blbaad says: Jan 31, 2016 7:47 AM

    he would would he, then get ready to lose your license and what respect you had! OJ knew what he was doing.

  30. joetoronto says: Jan 31, 2016 8:10 AM

    Rot in prison, OJ!

  31. wwwmattcom says: Jan 31, 2016 8:20 AM

    Concussions do not happen to just the super elite millionaire football players who have facilities run by billionaires who are a part of the exclusive NFL multi billion dollar a year club.

    Concussions are a youth problem too. Games need to change at the NFL level because of the trickle down, unfortunately there isn’t going to be a trickle down of cash into PeeWee or High School sports for better healthcare.

    Athletic Trainers need to be on the field of games.
    Playing these games needs to be taken a lot less seriously. When in doubt take yourself out. Then read an article on chances of ever going pro.

  32. greenbaychicksarefat says: Jan 31, 2016 8:31 AM

    “Hey, I have CTE too”

    Aaron Hernandez

  33. jrducky3 says: Jan 31, 2016 8:39 AM

    It seems that even though he was acquitted, they continually attempt to convince the public that he was not guilty.
    Reminds me of the old adage, “I do believe thou does protest too much!!”
    I will always believe that a guilty murderer walked free.
    Relieved that he did end up behind bars as he should have.
    Kato even stated that he was guilty.

  34. spartyistheclassofthenationinfootballandbasketball says: Jan 31, 2016 8:42 AM

    boyzroll says:
    Jan 30, 2016 10:25 PM
    Why drag Bill Frist into this?
    Oh, never mind.
    Frist = Republican.
    Republicans = Bad.
    Very important point.

    No actually it’s because during the whole Terry Schiavo thing in Florida Frist was diagnosing her and commenting on her chances at survival without ever having seen her as a patient and Omalu is doing the same thing here so they’re very comprable situations. I hate how many commenters on this website want to make everything about politics. This is a football website. Perhaps you were looking for and typed the wrong letters by mistake.

  35. gassiusclay says: Jan 31, 2016 8:45 AM

    This is a very ridiculous situation. Dr. Omalu, although passionate and well informed in this arena, is being completely unprofessional by “betting his license.” He is unable to do so, and when push comes to shove, would never do so. By him saying this, it somehow gives full credibility and more weight to his arguments, which now attempt to abscond OJ from his actions. It is absurd to allow CTE be the reason that players and ex players do stupid things.

    The only thing that should come from CTE is to force the NFL to give lifelong pensions and medical care to ex players…other than that, case closed. If someone has CTE and kills themself, oh well, it was their choice to play professional football. If someone dies on the field of play or as a result, oh well, it was their choice to play football. The only thing they should get is lifelong coverage for having put themselves in harms way.

  36. dapollock69 says: Jan 31, 2016 8:56 AM

    Yes he could have CTE. Yes he may have had it then. Yes he is still a murderer.

  37. macker1283 says: Jan 31, 2016 9:02 AM

    When are they gonna do studies on NHL or soccer players, or other sports where there is physical contact. I would like to know how common this is. Do you need to hit your head regularly or can i be after a few big hits. I get that NFL is popular and thats why it gets attention, but it should be expanded to outside of that sport.

  38. 700levelvet says: Jan 31, 2016 9:21 AM

    There’s something about the picture with this article that I can’t put a finger on….

  39. skimbell says: Jan 31, 2016 10:06 AM

    ” Dr. Bennet Omalu…would bet his medical license that O.J. Simpson has Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

    Yeah, and he killed a couple of people too.

  40. troylok says: Jan 31, 2016 10:17 AM

    OJ came from a rough upbringing in a rough neighborhood. Is it real surprising that he might end up on the wrong side of the law? We can’t ignore the facts to make OJ seem like less of the monster that he is.

  41. ballbreaker707 says: Jan 31, 2016 10:42 AM

    Hope he rots

  42. mrcmos says: Jan 31, 2016 11:24 AM

    Perhaps that is why he hasn’t found “The Real Killer” yet.

    I hope it is a slow painful death for you OJ.

  43. drewzducks says: Jan 31, 2016 12:36 PM

    Finally, some good news.

  44. slumpshop says: Jan 31, 2016 12:38 PM

    We all know O.J. didn’t commit those murders. They just needed someone to blame. I’m a white male and the justice system continues to fail America. FREE O.J. 🔜

  45. slumpshop says: Jan 31, 2016 12:41 PM


  46. surfinbird1 says: Jan 31, 2016 1:19 PM

    Didn’t stop him from playing a lot of golf.

  47. thegreatgabbert says: Jan 31, 2016 6:13 PM

    There’s no “U” in CTE, you fricking throwback.

  48. datageek94 says: Jan 31, 2016 8:29 PM


    OJ was a world-class athlete. Even if he was older, he’s much faster than his victims. Add in the fact he was armed with a huge knife and had the element of surprise – no chance for the victims.

    For that matter even I, an older disabled person, could have killed the two with those two advantages (element of surprise and being armed).

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!