Why 'American Crime Story' Star Cuba Gooding Jr. Thinks O.J. Simpson Has CTE

The star of The People v. O.J. Simpson sounds off on the NFL's concussion issue


Cuba Gooding Jr., who plays O.J. Simpson on the new FX series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, believes the former football star might suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated brain trauma that has been linked to football players. Among the symptoms of the disease are impulsive behavior, depression and aggression.

“You’ll see an episode that the details the actual 911 tapes based on the domestic violence that he experienced, that Nicole Brown Simpson experienced,” Gooding Jr. tells PEOPLE Now. “One of the aspects of having CTE is that the physical manifestation of that aggression that your brain motivates in a person is something that’s uncontrollable and memorable.”

He continues, “I think that it’s just so very telling in his behavior.”

The Academy Award winner isn’t the only one who thinks the former football star suffers from the disease. Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who first identified the disease in football players and was recently played by Will Smith in the movie Concussion, told PEOPLE exclusively last month, “I would bet my medical license that he has CTE.”

Simpson, 68, and his legal team considered using this defense in 2012 when they tried to get him a new trial for his 2008 armed robbery conviction. In a filed statement, Simpson said he sustained “numerous blows to my head and/or landed on my head violently” while playing in the NFL and in college at the University of Southern California.

Norman Pardo, Simpson’s former business manager, told PEOPLE exclusively that Simpson, who was sentenced to 33 years in prison, is “often not coherent” and will “sit in the corner, mumbling, talking and arguing with himself.”

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on FX.

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