TRIGGER WARNING! – THIS ARTICLE MENTIONS DOMESTIC ABUSE AND DETAILS OF MURDER!
When I first started this blog, I told myself that I wasn’t going to cover any HUGE media sports stories. Meaning, stories that have been discussed heavily, & have gotten a TON of coverage over the years. But alas, you can’t talk about the dark side of sport without mentioning O. J Simpson. There is just no way you can skip over this chapter in dark sports history. Even now when you think of the name O. J Simpson you don’t think of his amazing football career or his mediocre acting one. No, you think about the whole tragedy that was O. J & Nicole Simpson. You also think about that low speed police chase in the white Chevy Bronco. Yup, you can’t talk about the deep dark history of sports without mentioning “The Juice”. Just hang in there with me because this might be a long one.
Orenthal James Simpson was born July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, California, to Jimmy Lee & Eunice Simpson. Growing up O. J’s Dad was a well-known drag queen in the San Fransico Bay area. Later in his life Jimmy Lee. Simpson came out as a gay man and he passed away from AIDS in 1986. Simpson’s aunt gave him the name Orenthal, which she said was the name of a French actor she liked. He was called “O. J.” from birth and did not know that Orenthal was his given name until a teacher read it in third grade (Imagine not finding out what your legal name was until you were about 8 years old, crazy). As a young child Simpson developed rickets (a condition that causes soft bones in children) and had to wear braces on his legs until he was 5 years old. Rickets is what caused O. J to develop his bow-legged stance that carried into adulthood.
The Simpson’s lived in the housing projects of the Potrero Hill neighborhood in San Francisco. When he was a teenager Simpson joined a street gang called the “Persian Warriors” and was briefly incarcerated at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center. After finding himself arrested for the 3rd time as a teen O. J got a chance to meet baseball player Willie Mays who encouraged Simpson to stay out of trouble and get his life back on track. Simpson attended Galileo High School where he landed a spot on the school’s football team. Simpson was an all-star athlete while attending school but his subpar performance inside the classroom prevented him from attracting the interest of many big-name colleges. In 1965 be would enroll in the City College of San Francisco. While there he played both running and defensive back on the football team. He went on to be named to the Junior College All- American team where he would consistently played at the running back position.
After City College won the Prune Bowl against Long Beach State, many colleges sought Simpson as a transfer student for football. O. J Simpson transferred to the University of Southern California (USC) where he played football under coach John McKay in 1967 & 1968. Simpson led the nation in rushing yards both years he played for McKay: in 1967 with 1,543 yards and 13 touchdowns, and in 1968 with 1,880 yards on 383 carries. I guess that is why they say, “the juice is loose!”. Oh yeah, his nickname was “the juice”, I think because his name is O. J and you know……orange juice……OJ, but as usual I digress. As a Junior at USC in 1967 Simpson was a close runner up in the Heisman Trophy balloting, eventually losing to UCLA quarterback, Gary Beban. As a senior in 1968 O. J Simpson won; the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, & the Walter Camp Award.
Simpson joined the 1969 AFL-NFL Common Draft which took place on January 28 & 29 1969 (this was the final year in which the NFL and American Football League (AFL) held a joint draft of college players). O. J Simpson demanded what was then the largest contract in professional sports history: $$650,000 over five years, this demand led to a standoff with Buffalo Bills former owner Ralph Wilson, he would eventually cave and Simpson would get his deal as well as a spot on the Bills roster. Simpson entered professional football with high expectations but struggled his first 3 years in the league, averaging only 622 rushing yards per season. In 1972, Simpson rushed for 1,000 yards for the first time in his professional career under new head coach Lou Saban (no relation to Alabama head coach Nick Saban….I googled it). Unlike the two coaches before him Saban made O. J the backbone of the Buffalo Bills offense. n 1973, Simpson became the first player to break the highly coveted 2,000 rushing yard mark, with 2,003 total rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Simpson gained over 1,000 rushing yards each season, for the next 3 seasons. Things were just getting better and better for “The Juice”.
La, La, La, La, La, a few more seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, good things kept happening professional for O. J Simpson. In 1978 Simpson was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, aw he went back to his hometown, that’s nice. Simpson played in San Francisco for two seasons, rushing for 1,053 yards and 4 touchdowns. O. J Simpson retired from the NFL in 1979, playing his final game against the Atlanta Falcons on December 16th of that year. At the time of his retirement Simpson gained 11,236 rushing yards, placing him 2nd on the NFL’s all-time rushing list; he now sits in the 21st spot. He was the only player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14-game season and he is the only player to rush for over 200 yards in six different games in his career. But these aren’t the things we remember about him, are they? O. J Simpson played in only one playoff game during his 11-season Hall of Fame career: a 1974 Divisional Playoff between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his time on the field O. J Simpson set the following records;
* Fastest player to gain 1,000 rushing yards in season: 1,025 in seven games in 1973 and 1,005 in seven games in 1975 (now tied with former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis)
* Fastest player to gain 2,000 rushing yards in season: 2,003 yards in 14 games in 1973.
* Most rushing yards per game in a season: 143.1 per game in 1973
During his time playing in the NFL O. J Simpson met Nicole Brown in 1977 while she working at a waitress at a nightclub called “The Daisy”. The pair started a relationship despite O. J still being married to his first wife, Marguerite. O. J and Marguerite divorced in March 1979 and he married Nicole on February 2, 1985, 5 years after his retirement from professional football. The happy couple went on to have 2 children, daughter Sydney born in 1985 & son Justin born in 1988. As the marriage went on Nicole claimed that Simpson became more abusive & controlling. A close friend of Nicole Brown Simpson would later tell the media that O. J would monitor where Nicole went when she left the house, tell her how to wear her hair, and would pick out what she got to wear. Friends also mentioned that O. J had numerous affairs throughout the marriage (some that have been noted by the media) and that he was insanely jealous of any male friends Nicole might have. I’m not going to sit here and say that Nicole was perfect, one night while O. J and nightclub singer Jennifer Young leaving a Beverly Hills restaurant together, according to Young Nicole ran towards them and began to yell obscenities. Young says she distinctly remembers Brown telling O. J; “If you’re going to f****** cheat on me, why don’t you pick somebody who’s pretty? She’s a f****** ugly dog,”
As more time passed friends noticed that whenever her husband was around Nicole would become tense and quiet. Some friends even told reporters that they sometimes noticed Nicole had black eyes, cuts, & bruises when they would see her. According to police records, Nicole made at least 8 calls to the 911 number to complain about her husband’s verbal and physical abuse. Then came the 1989 New Year’s Eve incident in which Nicole suffered bruises, a split lip and a blackened eye. That was the last straw &Nicole pressed charges. O. J was charged with spousal abuse and pled no contest to the lesser charge of battery, paid a fine & promised to do community service. Just 3 weeks later during an interview with ESPN O. J seemed to down play the incident stating that: “When I look at it, it really wasn’t that big of a fight, “Hey, you know, we had a fight. We were both guilty. No one was hurt. It was no big deal — and we got on with our lives.” Nicole would end up filing for divorce on February 25, 1992, citing “irreconcilable differences”, don’t be shy girl tell them he beat the shit out of you. In 1993 the couple made an attempt to reconcile but it was the same song and dance as before & the relationship came to an end permanently.
The couple moved on with their sperate lives. Brown would move into a condo at 875 South Bundy Drive in Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, with Sydney & Justin. So ya’ll are just going to live on a place called Bundy Drive and not expect some crazy shit to happen!? On the evening of June 12, 1994 Nicole Brown & her friend Ron Goldman were both found stabbed to death outside of the condominium building on Bundy Drive. Brown was found face down and barefoot at the bottom of the stairs leading to her front door, which was left open, with no signs of forced entry and showed no signs that anyone had entered the premises. Goldman was discovered nearby, close to a tree and the fence. They were only 35 (Jesus, that’s just 4 years older than myself) & 25 years old respectively. Oh yeah, there was a 12-year age gap between Simpson & Brown, forgot to mention that earlier, whoopsie.
Despite the scene having large amounts of blood the bottom of Brown’s feet was clean indicating that was murdered first & was most likely the intended target. She had been stabbed 7 times in the head and neck, but had few defensive wounds on her hands, which implied a short struggle had gone on between herself and her attacker. The final cut and most likely the cause of a death was a deep cut across her neck that severed her carotid artery. A large bruise on the center of Nicole Brown’s back led police to believe that the assailant left Nicole alone long enough to kill Ron Goldman before returning to Brown; putting his foot on her back (causing the bruising), pulling her head back by tightly yanking on her hair, & slitting her throat. Her larynx could be seen through the gaping wound in her neck, and her vertebrae was incised, her head was almost taken clean off her body. Ron Goldman had also been stabbed multiple times & like Brown had very few defensive wounds. Forensic evidence suggested that Goldman had been stabbed him repeatedly in the neck & and chest by the assailant using 1 hand, while being restrained in a chokehold with the other.
Allan Park parked opposite the Ashford Street property gate, then drove back to the Rockingham gate to check which driveway would be able to accommodate the size of the limo. Deciding that the Rockingham entrance was too tight, he returned to the Ashford gate and began to buzz the intercom at 10:40pm. When he got no response, he decided to stand outside and have a cigarette. He noted the house was dark and nobody appeared to be home as he smoked, he made multiple phone calls to his boss to get Simpson’s home phone number. He would later testify he saw a “shadowy figure resembling Simpson” emerge from the area where the Bronco was later found to be parked and approached the front entrance before changing direction and heading towards the southern walkway. The same person then appeared shortly afterwards from the southern walkway and entered the house through the front door and the lights then came on. Kato Kaelin was staying in a guest house on the Simpson property, he stated that at approximately 10:50pm something crashed into his wall, which he described as three “thumps” and feared that there had been an earthquake. Kaelin, who was on the phone with a friend (Rachel Ferrara) at the time hung up & ventured outside to investigate the noises, but decided not to walk directly down the dark south pathway from which the thumps had originated. Instead, he walked to the front of the property, where he saw Allan Park’s limo outside the Ashford gate. Kato Kaelin let Park in the Ashford gate, and Simpson finally came out the front door a few minutes later claiming he had overslept. Both men would later testify that Simpson seemed agitated that night.
Park would later testify that he loaded 4 bags of luggage into the car that night, with one of them being a knapsack that Simpson would not let him touch, insisting he load it himself. James Williams, a skycap at LAX, would testify that Simpson only checked 3 bags at the airport that night. The investigators later determined that the missing luggage was the same knapsack Allan Park had mentioned. Skip Junis, who happened to be at LAX at the same time as O. J, claimed he saw Simpson tossing items from a bag into a rubbish bin. Detectives Tom Lange and Philip would tell the media that they believe this is how the murder weapon, shoes & clothes that Simpson wore during the murder were disposed.
Well folks, this is where I am going to end the first half of this story because I try to jam everything into 1 blog post you will be reading it for 6 years. In the next part I will be talking about the arrest, trial, & verdict. Even though we all know how it plays out.
I’m Nikki, thanks for reading, & good night. (I don’t know I saw it on a show the other night and it sounded so good when Donnie Wahlberg said it.