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O.J. Simpson feared he had CTE but his family has said a ‘hard no’ to brain study

Simpson's attorney said he's been 'getting calls from medical centers that are doing CTE testing asking me for O.J.’s brain . . . that is not happening'

O.J. Simpson Returns To Court In Robbery Case
LAS VEGAS – NOVEMBER 13: O.J. Simpson appears in court for a preliminary hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center November 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Simpson is appearing in court for the third day for his preliminary hearing on charges which include burglary, robbery and assault following an attempted robbery at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino in September. (Photo by Andrew Gombert-Pool/Getty Images)
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The body of O.J. Simpson is expected to be cremated in Las Vegas 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 (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 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 ɫ̳ interview, while Simpson was having trouble remembering some details about an NFL player, he said, “That’s my CTE kicking in.”

O.J. Simpson Granted Parole At Hearing
O.J. Simpson attends his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Center July 20, 2017 in Lovelock, Nevada. (Jason Bean-Pool/Getty Images)

Memory loss and confusion are symptoms of CTE, 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, 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.

Prosecutor Christopher Darden holds a smiling port
Prosecutor Christopher Darden holds a smiling portrait of murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson to contrast it with photos of a battered Nicole shown to the jury during closing arguments in the O.J. Simpson double murder trial 26 September 1995, in Los Angeles, CA. (MYUNG J. CHUN/AFP via Getty Images)

Malcolm LaVergne, Simpson’s longtime attorney and the executor of his estate, 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 — 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.”

People like Militello, who knew Simpson as “gentle” and “fun-loving,” as well as Americans who came to see him as a handsome, charming actor, sports announcer and TV pitchman, were shocked in 1994 when the Los Angeles police arrested him in the stabbing murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, The Buffalo ɫ̳ reported.

During Simpson’s trial, the public also learned that he was an abusive husband, He was accused of battering his ex-wife on multiple occasions, leaving her in fear of her life, and he was convicted of spousal abuse after what she called “the mad New Year’s Eve beat up” in 1989.

While Simpson was acquitted of killing her and Goldman in 1995, he was implicated in another violent crime in the next decade. In 2008, a jury convicted Simpson of taking part in an armed robbery of sports memorabilia in Las Vegas. Simpson denied wrongdoing, claiming the memorabilia had been previously stolen from him. He ended up serving nine years in prison and was paroled in 2017.

Militello, who became one of Simpson’s best friends in the early 1970s when he owned a popular Buffalo night club, said that the football star often told him he suffered from severe headaches after colliding with tacklers during games, the Buffalo ɫ̳ reported. Simpson said the headaches were so bad he could barely function, choosing to lie in bed most of the day after games and recuperate, Militello told the Buffalo ɫ̳.

“Do I know if O.J. suffered from CTE? No, I don’t,” Militello told the Buffalo ɫ̳. “I think it’s possible.” Militello had long championed Simpson’s innocence in the killings of his ex-wife and Goldman, but the CTE possibility is one of the reasons he expressed doubts to the Buffalo ɫ̳.

In 2023, the Boston University CTE Center that it had diagnosed CTE in 345 former NFL players, out of 376 players its scientists had been asked to examine. The prevalence of CTE among NFL players is unknown as CTE can only be definitively diagnosed after death, the center said. But repetitive head injuries appear to be the chief risk factor for CTE.

Others around Simpson also wondered if he had been living with CTE, including a retired guard who worked at the Nevada prison where he served time for robbery, .

“He’d wake up in the morning wondering what (his) tee time was for golf, and he’s in a prison,” Jeffrey Felix, who worked at Lovelock Correctional Facility in Nevada during Simpson’s time there, told The Post.

Simpson was “very forgetful,” Felix said, adding that the player, known as “The Juice,” often spaced on taking his medication and regularly suffered from headaches.

Norman Pardo, Simpson’s former manager, also wondered about CTE being a factor in his client’s “unhinged rants,” The Post said.

“OJ wasn’t right in the head,” Pardo said. “He would talk to himself in the car and then he’d argue with himself in the car . . . sometimes he’d talk like he was talking in the third person.”

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