Bizarre behavior in court hearing from former football star J.K. Schaffer

HAMILTON, Ohio -- Is brain damage from concussions behind former football star J.K. Schaffer's erratic behavior?

His defense attorney said Tuesday he'd look into the possibility after a bizarre court hearing.

Schaffer, a former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, is charged with assault, breaking and entering and public indecency. Police said the 26-year-old attacked a neighbor and exposed himself at a church over the weekend.

 

Outside a Butler County courtroom, defense attorney Mike Allen said he'd be looking into explanations for his client's actions. Schaffer was arraigned from the Butler County Jail via video conference, and Allen said his behavior wasn't normal.

At times, Schaffer tried to interrupt the proceedings and poked fun at his attorney as a "four-eyed bald white guy."

"I just wanted to say that this is probably the best day of my life because ..." Schaffer told the court before he was cut off.

Allen said he'd not yet talked with his client because of the Presidents Day holiday. Schaffer's family hired him, he said.

"It certainly wasn't the normal arraignment that I'm used to," Allen told reporters. "There are obviously some issues, and we're going to get to the bottom of it. He's got a loving family."

 

Schaffer's bond was set at $25,000. His parents are set to post 10 percent of the bond and keep Schaffer at their home. He was ordered to have no contact with his alleged victim.

"(His parents are) assuring me that they can provide the care that he needs," Allen said. "They'll be in a position to evaluate that, and if he needs something more structured than that, then we can look into that."

Cincinnati criminal defense attorney Mark Krumbein said that he believed bringing a concussion-related defense into court would be unlikely to get Schaffer entirely off the hook. However, such a claim could result in a reduced sentence if it were discovered to be accurate.

"They are really long-shot type defenses," Krumbein said.

Schaffer played football for La Salle High School and the University of Cincinnati. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012, but was released from the practice squad. He was picked up by the Bengals and signed to the practice squad that November; the team added him to the roster in September 2013, then waived him in August 2014.

Why there's a question of brain injury

Thousands of former NFL players have been diagnosed with brain injuries linked to repeated concussions, and a class-action settlement could cost the league $1 billion over 65 years. About 22,000 retirees are encouraged to get baseline neurological testing. The league expects more than 6,000 of them to eventually be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

The settlement resolves thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions in order to return players to the field.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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