Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien acknowledged to a Washington state officer late last month that he had struck his wife during a domestic dispute, according to a police report.
Rypien, 56, pleaded not guilty on July 1 to a charge of domestic violence against his wife, Danielle. He was charged with fourth-degree assault and was released without bail. The former Washington Redskins quarterback allegedly struck his wife in his car while in Spokane on June 30, a witness told police.
Rypien acknowledged hitting his wife and told officers that his wife covered his eyes as he drove and she got the “wind knocked out of her” after he pushed her hands away, The Spokesman-Review reported, citing a police report.
Later, when his wife laid in the grass holding her stomach and struggling to breathe, Rypien reportedly demanded that she tell the truth.
“Did you hit her?” Spokane officer Todd Brownlee asked Rypien, according to the report.
“Yes, I did,” Rypien replied.
Chris Bugbee, Rypien’s attorney, told the Associated Press in an email Thursday that his client struck his wife in self-defense.
“He shoved Danielle back into the passenger seat with his right arm and elbow hard enough to ensure that he would move her out of the way,” Bugbee said in a statement. “So when the officer informed Mark that a witness had seen a man strike Danielle in the car, he told the officer that he was the person. There is no doubt that he struck her when he moved her.”
Mark and Danielle Rypien both said they were cooperating with authorities.
Rypien, who played for five different teams over 11 NFL seasons, said last year that he believes he has Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) caused by repeated concussions he suffered during his years playing football.
“I suffer from a complex stew of mental health conditions – dark places, depression, anxiety, addictions,” he said in an interview with KHQ6 last year, “brought about from dozens of concussions and thousands of subconcussive injuries.”
Rypien said that in the past he has attempted suicide and hired prostitutes as a result of his condition. He was a lead plaintiff in a successful lawsuit brought against the NFL by thousands of former players for its handling of head injuries in 2013.
Last year, Rypien told the Spokesman-Review that he was also involved in a domestic violence incident with his wife in 2017, saying he “got angry and I threw her on the bed a couple of times.” He and his wife blamed a medication change for his behavior.
Rypien played six seasons with Washington and was named the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVI when he threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Redskins over the Buffalo Bills, 37-24. It was the franchise’s third Super Bowl under then-head coach Joe Gibbs and their most recent title.
CTE can only be diagnosed by examining a person’s brain after their death. Individuals who play football or other contact sports, as well as some military members, are thought to be at the highest risk for the condition due to repeated blows to the head, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Numerous NFL players have reported a wide variety of problems related to CTE, including homelessness, erratic behavior, suicide and other early deaths.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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