Thursday, April 11, 2024

RIP (sorta) O.J. Simpson

I was just a little too young to watch O.J. Simpson during his prime Buffalo Bills era, although I still have some cards from when he was on that team. But from a very early age - while I might not have seen him running wild in his white, blue, and red uniform - I distinctly recall Simpson in his fancy suits flying through the airport walkways in his Hertz rental-car ads.

I did eventually see plenty of football highlights of "The Juice" and, wow, was he great. He also had an infectious personality later on as an NBC Sports game-time announcer and the detective who flies out of his wheelchair from the upper deck of a stadium in the first of three Naked Gun films in which he appeared.

But those were just the bright-side warmup to O.J.'s approaching dark-side pop-culture legacy. I can still remember being on vacation near the beach in Alabama when my eyes were glued to the TV on June 17, 1994 as that white Ford Bronco led the police on a chase across Los Angeles. It would be the beginning of the entire nation getting more O.J. than they had ever wanted. It took me a long time to finally see him as the cold-blooded murderer of his wife rather than the friendly-eyed TV personality I had grown to love.The drama took us all the way to the innocent verdict date of October 3, 1995 and way beyond. In fact, I can't believe the car chase and the trial took less than a year-and-a-half. It seemed like forever. Of course, Simpson was found liable in civil court in 1997 for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. 

O.J. Simpson has died of prostate cancer at the age of 76.

Some other interesting Simpson nuggets of note:

  • He was born in a housing project in San Francisco.
  • He blamed a lot of his later troubles on having an absent father after his parents separated when he was 5.
  • When he was little, he had rickets and bowed legs that caused other kids to make fun of him.
  • He won the Heisman trophy as college football's top player while at USC.
  • Simpson was the first NFL player to surpass 2,000 yards rushing, which he did in 1973.
  • He met Nicole Brown way back in 1977 at a Beverly Hills nightclub.
  • He spent nine years in prison for trying in 2007 to steal O.J. Simpson memorabilia.
  • He had clearly started to lose his mind in his last years with his rambling video posts on X but to his credit at least he mostly stuck to football commentary.
What a run he had!

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