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Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien pleads not guilty to assault

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 18: Former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien watches his tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions at Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando on January 18, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

SPOKANE, Wash. — Former Super Bowl hero Mark Rypien, who announced last year that he believes he suffered brain damage while playing in the NFL that caused him to behave violently at times, pleaded not guilty on Monday to a charge of domestic violence against his wife.

Rypien was taken to the Spokane County Jail on Sunday afternoon after his arrest near a bank on the north side of the city. A witness who saw the couple called police and said Rypien’s wife alleged he had struck her. She was evaluated and did not need medical treatment, police said.

Rypien, 56, was released without bail; his next court appearance was scheduled for July 31. Prosecutors initially asked for a no-contact order between Rypien and his wife at the brief hearing, but she argued against that.

There was no answer at the Spokane offices of the Rypien Foundation, which battles childhood cancer. Rypien’s attorney, Chris Bugbee, did not immediately return a telephone message.

Rypien announced last year he believes he has Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, caused by repeated concussions while playing in the NFL. He said he believes this condition caused him to have erratic and violent behavior.

“I’ve been down the darkest path,” he said last year. “I’ve made some horrible, horrible mistakes.”

Rypien said that in the past he has attempted suicide, hired prostitutes and suffers from persistent depression and anxiety.

He was a lead plaintiff among 4,500 former players who won a settlement related to CTE in 2013.

Rypien was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVI after the 1991 season as the Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills.

In a lengthy interview with The Spokesman-Review newspaper last year, Rypien acknowledged that he was also involved in a domestic violence incident with his wife in 2017.

“I got angry and I threw her on the bed a couple of times,” Rypien said. He and his wife blamed a medication change for his behavior.

A high-school quarterback in Spokane who went on to star at nearby Washington State University, Rypien was drafted by the Redskins in 1986. 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.

Numerous NFL players have reported a wide variety of problems related to CTE, including homelessness, erratic behavior, suicide and other early deat

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