OJ is out! Let the media frenzy begin!
Unless you’ve been living on Mars or been in a coma, you know by now that, yesterday, OJ Simpson was granted parole after having served eight-plus years of his 33-year prison sentence. You couldn’t escape the news regardless of how hard you tried.
Those of you that are outraged at his early release please keep in mind that the parole board’s decision had nothing to do with the case involving the murders of his late wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. Rather, it dealt solely with OJ’s conviction for kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas with respect to various sports memorabilia.
The purpose of this blog is NOT to rehash the aforementioned case, the parole, nor the Brown Simpson/Goldman murder case. As far as I am concerned, that is all “water under the bridge,” and I am sick of it. If you want to relive the salacious details of the murders and/or any other aspects of OJ’s sordid personal life you will be able to find them on virtually any tv or radio station, prospectively. For example, yesterday, while I was driving in my car it was extremely hard to find any radio channel that was not covering and analyzing OJ’s parole ad nauseam.
That said, for the benefit of those few of you who may not be cognizant, I will recap (very) briefly the major highlights and lowlights of his life.
1. Orenthal James Simpson was born on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, CA.
2. He attended USC where he became a megastar running back. Along the way, he picked up the nickname, “Juice.”
3. He starred for eleven years in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. In 1973 he became the first running back to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season, and, although others have since accomplished that feat, he is still the only “back” to have done it in a 14-game season.
4. He has been elected into both the college and professional Football Halls of Fame.
5. OJ had a very likeable public image and was very popular, even charming (although, in private, he had been known to exhibit violent outbursts of temper and even physicality).
6. This popularity enabled him to carve a lucrative post-NFL career in acting and commercials. He became a bona fide celebrity.
7. It all came crashing down when he was arrested and tried for the violent murders of his Brown-Simpson and Goldman. He was acquitted in a controversial verdict. Later, however, the Goldman family won a $33 million judgment against him in a civil case.
8. In 2008 a Las Vegas jury found him guilty of the aforementioned armed robbery and kidnapping charges. He has served eight years of the 33 year sentence, and now has been paroled.
9. He is scheduled to be released on October 1.
In my opinion, the public’s fascination with OJ has not abated over the years. Most people crave to watch and read about controversy and violence, as long as they’re viewing it, not participating in it. That is doubly true if it involves a celebrity, and, like him or hate him, OJ is still a celebrity.
I was a huge OJ fan. I followed his collegiate and professional career avidly. I watched all his movies. I particularly enjoyed the Naked Gun movies with the late Leslie Nielson. I even liked his commercials, especially when he hurdled through the airport for Hertz. Like most of us, I was only aware of his public persona. I knew nothing of the real OJ – until the murders.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll in 2016 a majority of people, black and white, now believe that OJ was “probably” guilty.” His defenders should keep in mind that ” not guilty” does not mean “innocent.” His lawyers simply outclassed a mediocre, at best, prosecution team. To me, OJ’s acquittal demonstrated that if you’re on trial for murder, or any crime for that matter, it pays to be rich. How many of us could have afforded to hire the “dream team” even if, as the saying goes, “our life depended on it?” One could argue that any inequality in our justice system is not predicated on whether the defendant is black or white but, rather, if he is rich or poor.
So, as I said, get ready for a media feeding frenzy. It will be wall-to-wall OJ – talk shows, interviews, books, movies, one-man appearances on Broadway, video games, etc. The media is very inventive when there is money to be made, and the public is insatiable for all things OJ.
Those of us who are sick of hearing and reading about OJ will just have to hold our noses and bear it until something even more extreme occurs to knock him from our consciousness. The one saving grace in all this is that OJ will be working for the Goldmans. Any money he earns will be going to pay off their judgment against him (unless it is hidden illegally). Thank goodness for small favors.