On the first anniversary of the shooting death of Odin Lloyd by (allegedly) former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, there’s another murder-related anniversary in the NFL.
On June 17, 1994, Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson led police on a slow-speed chase in Los Angeles prior to his arrest on charges that he killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
The ride of the white Ford Bronco, driven by former Simpson teammate Al Cowlings, was broadcast coast-to-coast by all networks, with even NBC nudging the NBA Finals to the bottom corner of the screen to permit video and audio coverage of the chase.
The moment carried a real-time risk of a violent, immediate demise for Simpson. It also caused many who initially rejected the notion that Simpson committed the killings to presume guilt. Especially once it was learned that he had with him his passport, a fake goatee and mustache, and a bottle of makeup adhesive.
The apparent suicide note written by Simpson and read for cameras by the late Robert Kardashian (the father of those Kardashians) also created the impression that Simpson was anything but innocent.
“Don’t feel sorry for me,” the note said. “I’ve had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person.”
Not long after he was taken into custody, the lost person found his charisma and swagger, declaring in court that he is “absolutely, 100 percent not guilty.” The battle at that point officially had been joined, and the next 15 months or so consisted of preparation for and litigation of the Trial of the Century, culminating in an if-it-doesn’t-fit-you-must-acquittal that ignored overwhelming DNA evidence linking Simpson directly to the crime.
A jury in a civil case later accepted that evidence, finding Simpson responsible for the killings and entering a $33.5 million verdict against him. The dogged efforts of Fred Goldman, the father of Ronald Goldman, to pursue every possible penny from Simpson led directly to Simpson’s ongoing incarceration in Nevada on kidnapping and armed robbery charges that flowed from efforts to recover memorabilia Simpson apparently hoped to sell under the table, avoiding the court order siphoning money for the rest of his life to estates of those that, in the eyes of the civil but not criminal justice system, he slaughtered.