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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.

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