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Convicted ex-NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II has CTE symptoms, his attorneys say

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 11/5/2019 Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY

VISTA, Calif. – Former NFL star Kellen Winslow II has been suffering from symptoms related to football brain trauma and will present a medical report to the judge about it before his sentencing in February on charges of raping two women and sexual misconduct with three others.

His attorneys revealed Monday that he has symptoms associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been linked to blows to the head sustained while playing football.

The purpose of making this known to the judge is to help get Winslow, 36, the lightest sentence possible for his crimes – a minimum of 12 years in prison. Judge Blaine Bowman has the leeway to sentence him to as many as 18 years in prison, according to the plea agreement Winslow reached with prosecutors Monday.

“He does suffer from frontal lobe damage as a result of playing football, otherwise known as CTE,” his attorney Marc Carlos said.

CTE currently only is diagnosed in an examination after death. But symptoms of those who have died with it have included memory loss, impulse control problems, aggression and impaired judgment.

Asked what symptoms he has, another attorney for Winslow, Gretchen von Helms, told USA TODAY Sports it included memory loss and “the whole nine yards.” Winslow played tight end in the NFL from 2004 to 2013 and earned about $40 million after starring at the University of Miami.

“We’ve had him evaluated,” Carlos said. “I feel confident we can present something to the judge, which will outline the impact of his football playing career.”

This revelation came out Monday after Winslow pleaded guilty to raping a woman while she was unconscious in 2003, when he was 19 and she was 17. He also pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery against a 54-year-old hitchhiker he picked up in March 2018. Before that, a jury in June convicted him of raping a homeless woman, exposing himself to a neighbor and engaging in a lewd act against another woman at a local gym in February, all age 57 or older at the time.

Before the first trial in the spring, his attorneys had considered a mental health defense to a certain extent, according to court documents. But they ultimately decided against it because it wouldn’t be allowed as a defense to some of the charges against him, Carlos said. They also requested to have two psychiatrists testify at that trial in his defense but didn’t go forward with it.

At trial, his attorneys instead chose to portray the alleged victims as mistaken, or out to get his money or that the sex was consensual, not rape.

BREAKING DOWN THE CASE: How Kellen Winslow II got here

DOWNFALL: How Kellen Winslow II went from NFL star to accused serial rapist

OUTBURST: Kellen Winslow Sr. yells at prosecutor before son's retrial begins

Now that he’s reached a plea deal to end his case, his attorneys will have more leeway to make the case that he is cognitively impaired and should be spared the worst punishment. When he’s about to get out of prison, his mental health will be evaluated, too.

“He does face a possible commitment as a sexually violent predator to an indeterminate term, meaning for the rest of his life, into a state hospital if he is found to meet that criteria and we proceed with a petition to have him committed to a state hospital,” San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens said Monday. “That would not be a determination that would be made until he is eligible for parole at the time of his potential release from state prison. So he would not be automatically released into the community until he has been evaluated by two psychologists appointed by the state.”

Winslow is among a number of former pro football players to have taken seemingly sudden criminal turns, including former safety Darren Sharper (serial rape) and former receiver Titus Young (crime spree). Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison for murder and later hung himself in prison. A post-mortem examination of Hernandez’s brain showed he had Stage 3 CTE.

However, there’s no proof that brain trauma causes a pattern of criminal behavior, according to current science, San Diego psychiatrist David Reiss told USA TODAY Sports before Winslow’s first trial.

Winslow’s sentencing is set for Feb. 19. He has been in jail here without bail since March.

Follow reporter Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: bschrotenb@usatoday.com

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Convicted ex-NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II has CTE symptoms, his attorneys say

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