EX-NFL STAR WONDERS IF BAD DECISIONS RESULT OF CONCUSSIONS
Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien said he has attempted suicide, hired prostitutes and suffers from persistent depression. Now, he’s wondering if he sustained brain injuries while playing football.
The 55-year-old former quarterback is worried about his future even as he revealed some lurid elements of his past.
“There were behaviours that were just bizarre,” Rypien said.
His wife, Danielle, said she has also worried about Rypien’s future.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, he’s going to end up in a home,”’ Danielle said. “I didn’t want him running around the street with a shopping cart.”
Rypien was a record-breaking high school quarterback in Spokane and a star at nearby Washington State. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1986 and played until 2002. Since then, he appeared outwardly to live a comfortable life in Spokane. But that was not the case.
“My story is impactful because people see me in a different light. I want them to see me in an accurate light,” Rypien said. “I’ve been down the darkest path. I’ve made some horrible, horrible mistakes. But I’ve given myself a chance to progress forward.”
Rypien, who led Washington to victory in the 1992 Super Bowl over Buffalo and was picked as the MVP, said he played organized football for 26 years and figures he suffered several concussions.
“People think you have to be knocked out to have a concussion,” Rypien said. “There are hundreds of times you shake it off and get back in there. It’s all about the cumulative hits. That’s what cause brain damage.”
Rypien said he suffers from depression, anxiety and isolation. Outwardly social, “I can’t wait to get home and be alone,” he said.
A decade ago, his impulsive behaviours began to escalate: aggressiveness and verbal outbursts increased. One day, Rypien left a 20-minute audio suicide message at home for Danielle to find. But he took no action.
Some time later, it went beyond a message. Rypien swallowed 150 Advils and washed them down with a bottle of wine.
“It was the thought that people aren’t going to miss me,” Rypien said. “I was shameful and guilty of poor decisions, shameful and guilty of being depressed all the time. I didn’t want to be around anymore.”
Danielle found him and poured hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal down his throat to get him to vomit up the pills.
Rypien said he also used to patronize massage parlours in Spokane that were shut down in a police sting in 2012. His name didn’t appear with the hundreds of other men listed as customers for one reason: He didn’t use a credit card.
“Yes, I was part of this,” Rypien acknowledged, offering no further details. “Again, I made some absolutely crazy mistakes. Terrible decisions. Poor judgment.”
Rypien has soured on football. “I wouldn’t put any of my kids or grandkids in a football jersey,” he said.
Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien poses with his wife, Danielle. With the help of his wife, Rypien is dealing with a traumatic brain injury he believes was caused by the many concussions he received during his football career.