By On February 16th, 2016

O.J. Simpson: An American Story of CTE


How has it been over twenty years since the O.J. Simpson trial? I’ve been watching the television program, “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” on FX recently, and, in many ways, it doesn’t seem like that long ago that a great many of us were glued to our televisions as the trial unfolded and especially on the day the verdict was delivered. The trial brought to light many issues in our justice system and our culture around race, celebrity, and the media.


I think if O.J. Simpson were tried today, the trial would likely involve the topic of concussion and its effects. We’ve learned a considerable amount about the brain in general and brain injury in the sport of football, specifically, during the last twenty years. Dr. Bennet Omalu, who was the first to identify Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of deceased football player, Mike Webster, recently stated that he would bet his medical license that O.J. Simpson has CTE. We have yet to find a way to diagnose CTE in the living, so there is no way to know for sure. Certainly the signs of poor judgment and impulsivity were apparent in Simpson in 2008 after an armed robbery attempt to steal back some of his previously owned sports memorabilia landed him in a Nevada courtroom. Later in 2012, during an attempt to get a retrial, his attorneys attempted to make an argument for diminished capacity due to multiple hits Simpson suffered during his football career.

Today Simpson remains in prison serving a sentence for armed robbery and not murder. Check out “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” Even though we know the ending, it reveals many perspectives on those involved with the case that were glossed over or not covered at the time. I laughed during the scene of the press conference with Simpson’s close friend, Robert Kardashian, father of the now famous Kim Kardashian and family, when reporters repeatedly asked him to spell his last name. It briefly made me long for the day when we didn’t know who the Kardashians were, and when the so-called “trial of the century” was, unknown to us at the time, prelude for the onslaught of reality television to come.

If you are interested in brain injury related topics, check out our blog, NeuroNotes, for all the latest information and research.

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