The Pro Football Hall of Fame is willing to roll out the red carpet for Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson. The University of Southern California won’t be.
“Right now with USC, what the administration and the athletic department have said is, no, O.J. will not be a part of our functions,” Trojans coach Clay Helton said Thursday, via ESPN.com. “That’s been the statement.”
Simpson is due to be released from prison on October 1. As noted by Arash Markazi of ESPN.com, USC continue to display Simpson’s retired No. 32 at home games, along with a copy of his Heisman Trophy.
So why will the Pro Football Hall of Fame allow him to come to the annual enshrinement ceremony? It all goes back to the misguided notion that status as one of the all-time greats in football should be confined only to what happens on the football field, without regard to anything the player has done in any other setting. This approach, which routinely is defied by human nature when it’s time to cast secret ballots, leads to periodic awkwardness for the Hall of Fame and its voters.
There may be annual awkwardness in Canton if Simpson decides to dust off his gold (tan) jacket and start showing up at the enshrinement ceremony.