This video captures a group of thugs harassing and one attacking a homeless man. Things escalate quickly when one of the four thugs sucker punches the homeless man in the face… not knowing what he’s getting himself into.
It turns out that homeless man is actually an ex-NFL Offensive Lineman by the name of Chris Brymer. Brymer played college football as a starter USC, then was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. After his season in the NFL, he played for the XFL on “Los Angeles Extreme”.
The thug gets a good pounding into the ground after picking on the wrong homeless man. Brymer, who stands at 6’3″ and weighs upwards of 300 pounds quickly punches the thug into the ground, then walks off despite being continuously harassed by the gang of 4.
The assailant had no idea that he was attacking a former NFL offensive lineman named Chris Brymer, who played for the Dallas Cowboys for one season and stood at 6’3″ and 300 pounds, giving him more than enough strength to fight off your average disgruntled youth.
Why Is Chris Brymer Homeless?
Interviews with medical experts, Brymer’s friends and relatives and Brymer himself indicate that he likely suffers from a poorly understood brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Researchers are learning that CTE — brain degeneration caused by repeated head trauma such as concussions — is alarmingly common among high-level former football players, particularly linemen. The disease produces a range of emotional and cognitive problems, including irrational bursts of anger, difficulty communicating and forming sentences, and schizophrenia-like delusions.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Makes Brymer More Violent
Recent advances in scientific knowledge about CTE, accompanied by a growing body of evidence that prominent players whose lives were derailed by personal breakdowns had suffered from the disease, have raised tough ethical issues for thriving college and professional-football franchises. Even though the NFL has recently become more vigilant about dealing with players who suffer concussions, the league continues to publicly deny the existence of a link between football and long-term brain trauma.
As Brymer awaits a trial scheduled to begin in October, the details of the altercation that led to his arrest remain unclear. The alleged victim is a violent felon of dubious credibility, and Brymer and his attorneys say he acted in self-defense. But regardless of the trial’s outcome, Brymer’s story is far from unusual, and illustrates the challenges faced by a special class of criminal defendants.
Many football veterans and CTE patients wind up in court as a result of their unpredictable behavior, prompting some activists and legal experts to call for greater awareness among judges and attorneys about brain trauma’s influence over defendants’ actions. Brymer’s case and others like it raise their own issues — not just for medical researchers or the NFL, but for the criminal-justice system of a football-crazed society.
Not big enough to play lineman position
Big as he was, he was not big for a lineman. At 6 feet 2 and 280 pounds, Chris Brymer may have been a giant on the gridiron in his hometown of Apple Valley, northeast of Los Angeles — famous for its orchards and two celebrity residents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. But in the Pac-10, where he was recruited to USC and earned a berth as a starting offensive guard, his size wasn’t enough. He had to prove himself, and he did so through the vicious, headfirst style of play that is the hallmark of many great linemen.
“There were a lot of linemen that were bigger than him, but he was a bulldog,” recalls Melissa Brymer, who now lives in San Bernardino County with the couple’s 7-year-old son. “He especially liked using his head. I have a dented helmet of his. He used to get really bad headaches.”
Not that Brymer’s teammates were complaining. Up against some of the strongest, fastest and most aggressive athletes to be found anywhere, players appreciated having a guy like Brymer between them and their opponents. He frequently “pulled” for USC’s running backs, colliding at high speed with defensive players to clear a path.
“I’d say he was probably one of the toughest players I’ve ever played with — very physical, hard-nosed, just the type of guy you’d like to be next to you if you were ever in a tough situation,” says Jonathan Himebauch, who played center at USC with Brymer and is now the offensive line coach for the Montreal Alouettes, in the Canadian Football League. “He was always a guy who was looking to protect.”
Off the field, Brymer was well-liked, if known to have a stubborn streak. “I wouldn’t say he would be a guy that’s going to turn away from a fight, but he wasn’t one to go out and start fights,” Himebauch recalls.
Brymer played his last college season in 1997. The storied Trojans weren’t at their best during his time at USC, but he played alongside some who went on to enjoy success and fame, including wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. After college, Brymer drifted among the practice squads on a few NFL teams, getting only a single active-roster game, with the Dallas Cowboys.
In 1999 he began playing with the Rhein Fire, an NFL Europe team based in Düsseldorf. The team gave up the fewest sacks in the league during his second season. Former Rhein Fire offensive guard Craig Heimburger attributes that success to Brymer, who was playing center, where he snapped the ball to the quarterback and directed adjustments to his fellow linemen’s blocking formations. “A lot of [the offensive line’s success] had to do with Chris,” Heimburger says. “The center’s really the one with the brains.”
Heimburger and his wife were incredulous after reading accounts of Brymer’s recent arrest in online newspaper articles, such as a San Francisco Examiner story that tagged him a “race-baiting drifter.” The allegation didn’t fit the Brymer he and others knew. While Brymer came from an inland California town that was mostly white, his roommates in college were black, and he spent time off the field with black Rhein Fire players. “He was usually the only white guy sitting and playing cards with our teammates,” Heimburger says.
Leonard Green, a former USC tailback, was likewise shocked at the allegations. “I can tell you right now that the guy has no racist bone in his body,” he says. “I’m an African-American. We were the best of friends.”
After NFL Europe, Brymer played for a year in the XFL, a short-lived pro-football sideshow with rules tweaked to enhance the sport’s violent appeal. He then moved to San Juan Capistrano with Melissa and got into Orange County’s then-booming mortgage business, founding a company called CMG Capital.
George Felactu, a former USC fullback who obtained his mortgage through Brymer, remembers that he had a knack for home finance. “He wasn’t the best student, but when I asked him about rates, it was like a Harvard MBA,” he says.
According to Melissa, the Brymers owned two homes and an office condominium. Brymer drove a Range Rover.
All of it was about to fall apart.
How Chris Brymer Lost It All
Most of Brymer’s friends and teammates didn’t know it, but something strange had been happening to him. It started when he was still playing pro ball, Melissa says. He began having trouble sleeping, often accompanied by irrational bouts of anger and paranoia that would fade as quickly as they arrived.
“He was accusing me of sleeping with [former Cowboys quarterback] Troy Aikman and random people,” she remembers. “He would wake up in the middle of the night, tear the blankets off me, turn all the lights on, and say he knew I was lying there awake. And then the next day it would be fine.” She pauses. “For me, it was like I was being mentally tortured for a long time.”
In Orange County, Brymer began acting erratically — partying a lot, staying out all night. Then things got weirder. He would sit around the house instead of going to work, writing on notepads about delusions that he could control the weather, talk to birds and teleport himself. Faced with questions from his wife, Brymer, thinking he could communicate telepathically, would respond, “You already know the answer to that,” accusing Melissa of playing dumb.” He started saying he was God and stopped working,” she says. “He would write down all his demands — ‘God is going to deliver me $5 billion by 10 p.m. Eastern time.’ He would just sit there in his office, watching the birds.”
CMG Capital collapsed as Brymer lost the desire or ability to oversee the business. The Brymers lost both their homes. He took to walking the streets, setting out from San Juan Capistrano and wandering as far as downtown L.A., 60 miles across freeways and through suburbs. “I have witnessed him walking down the 5 freeway at 1 in the morning trying to part the cars,” former neighbor and family friend Gina Milia says.
Some people learn from the stupid mistakes they commit, others don’t. We can all hope that this gang of four stupid, hoodrat thugs decided not to keep attacking homeless men.