Aaron Hernandez – former-NFL-star-turned-murderer – was diagnosed with CTE, which may or may not have influenced his violent actions in the last years of his life. Hernandez, who committed suicide at 27, had stage 3 CTE. There are four stages overall.
Hernandez’s fiancee, Shayanna Jenkins-Hernandez, believes that CTE contributed to some of his behaviors and has filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging that the league hid information about the link between football and brain disease.
Does she have any chance of winning?
“She’s going to have to get by causation issues,” sports and gaming attorney Daniel Wallach said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “He played three years in the NFL, but played far more Pop Warner football and the University of Florida – and he had violent tendencies before he ever got to the NFL. He was sort of on the Do Not Draft list for so many teams. This is definitely an uphill battle to prevail, but I think their goal is to get by a dismissal motion and maybe pressure the NFL into a settlement – because the NFL does not want to turn over documents or put Roger Goodell, of all people, on the stand. This case, if it gets past the motion to dismiss, maybe she could get a settlement, but this is not an ideal plaintiff. He has so much baggage surrounding him, what juror would find him sympathetic?”
Hernandez was found guilty of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd and was serving a life sentence when he committed suicide.
“This is probably one of the most severe cases of CTE that have been diagnosed by that research institute,” Wallach said, referring to Boston University. “If he’s not the youngest, he’s certainly the second- or third-youngest former NFL player to be diagnosed post-mortem with CTE. So I think this lawsuit has the potential to become the public face of CTE litigation against the National Football League, and that, in and of itself, poses a huge public-relations nightmare for the league.”
Wallach said that even if the courts knew Hernandez had CTE, he still would have been serving time for murder.
“It’s certainly not a cognizable defense to homicide,” Wallach said. “It might be a mitigating factor in sentencing, but it’s certainly not a justifiable defense to the crime.”