Sports | April 28, 2021 10:30 am

Ex-NFL Player Justin Bannan Blames CTE for Insanity in Attempted Murder Case

Bannan played parts of 12 NFL seasons in Buffalo, Baltimore, St. Louis and Denver

Ex-NFL Player Justin Bannan
Ex-NFL Player Justin Bannan on the sidelines in 2010 Arizona.
Christian Petersen/Getty

A former NFL player who spent more than a decade playing pro football is using CTE as part of his insanity plea after being charged with attempted murder for allegedly shooting a woman in Colorado in 2019.

Charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and burglary in the shooting of Ashley Marie in Boulder in 2019, former NFL defensive tackle Justin Bannan has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Bannan, who retired from the NFL in 2013 after playing parts of 12 seasons in Buffalo, Baltimore, St. Louis and Denver, claims he was unable to tell the difference between right and wrong when he shot Marie due to the onset of CTE caused by head trauma from his football career, according to USA Today. During Bannan’s arrest, a rolled-up $20 bill that later tested positive for cocaine was found on his person.

Harvey Steinberg, Bannan’s attorney, has stated in separate court hearings that his client has “probably had 25 concussions in the course of his career” and “may be in need of brain surgery.”

“I think that the government’s theory is, ‘Hey, whatever took place was secondary to his abuse of cocaine,’ ” Steinberg said during one hearing. “Our position is what took place here is clearly a result of traumatic brain injury. And if it turns out that he’s self-medicating with cocaine, that can be an issue for the jury to determine.”

Marie, who said Bannan told her the Russian mafia was after him after shooting her, is suing the former NFL player for civil damages. “I know what it’s like to suffer from neuro-cognitive issues, so maybe that’s at play,” Marie said in August 2020. “Still doesn’t feel like it excuses his actions that day in any way.”

Bannan is facing up to 50 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Since his arrest, Bannan has violated bond conditions at least once by testing positive for cocaine, according to Fox 31 in Denver.