SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Former Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien recently acknowledged to a Washington state police officer that he struck his wife during a domestic dispute, but his attorney later contended it was in self-defense.
A report by Spokane Officer Todd Brownlee said Rypien acknowledged hitting his wife, Danielle, on June 30. The former Washington Redskins quarterback told police 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 Thursday.
Later, when Danielle Rypien laid in the grass clutching her stomach and struggling to breath, Mark Rypien reportedly told his wife to “tell the truth.”
“Did you hit her?” Brownlee asked Mark Rypien, according to the police report.
“Yes, I did,” he replied.
Rypien announced last year that he believes he suffered brain damage from his time in the NFL that caused him to behave violently at times.
Rypien’s attorney, Chris Bugbee, stood by his client’s statements in an email Thursday, saying that while Rypien struck his wife, it was 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 wrote. “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.”
Rypien, 56, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of domestic violence. He was released from jail without bail, and his next court appearance is July 31. Prosecutors initially asked for a no-contact order between the couple at a July 1 court hearing, but she argued against it.
Mark and Danielle Rypien said in a subsequent statement that they will cooperate with authorities.
“In response to Mark being arrested for domestic violence, we want you to know that he did not commit any crime,” they said in the statement.
The police report said that despite Danielle Rypien asking a witness to call 911, she later begged officers not to arrest her husband, saying it could disrupt his charity, the Rypien Foundation.
“What do I have to say so that you arrest me and not him?” she asked officers.
Mark Rypien has said he believes he has chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive brain trauma. Symptoms often include impulse control problems, impaired judgment and aggression. Diagnosis of CTE can only be made with an autopsy.
He was a lead plaintiff among 4,500 former football players who won a settlement from the NFL related to CTE in 2013. Numerous NFL players have reported a wide variety of problems related to CTE, including homelessness, erratic behavior, suicide and other early deaths.
After the 1991 season, Rypien was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVI as the Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills. He played in four games during his last season in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts in 2001, although he did not play between 1998 and 2000.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com