Under the bright lights of Las Vegas on Friday, a giant finally reached the end of the road. A spectacular life that began as a High School man among boys culminated in a somber, near–weeping plea for leniency before Judge Jackie Glass in a Nevada courtroom.
Sentenced to 33 years in prison, Orenthal James Simpson choked back tears and in a voice cracking with emotion, explained that he "was sorry" and added the situation he found himself in was a series of misunderstandings.
For those too young to remember, Mr. Simpson, the 1968 Heisman Trophy winner at USC, was accused of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and an acquaintance named Ronald Goldman in 1994. A year later he was pronounced "not guilty" by a jury.
His life would never be the same.
Since the 1995 verdict, the man once known as Orange Juice Simpson, has run afoul of public opinion by remarks indicating he was "the cat that ate the canary." An example of this is his statement that he "is looking for the real killers," while spending almost all of his time on the golf course.
After losing a civil case to Fred Goldman, father of the young acquaintance of the former Mrs. Simpson, O.J. was ordered to pay an amount that was too great for him to meet and resulted in his selling many personal items of value to raise cash.
Along the way, the prosecution charges, Simpson devised a plot with five enforcers to "take back what was rightfully his." Included was much football paraphernalia. Simpson maintained the items "were stolen" and actually included his "first wife's wedding ring."
The State further alleged that Simpson and his cohorts used violence and weapons to subdue innocent people. Further, that if the items actually belonged to Simpson, he would have been required to sell them in order to continue to pay the Goldman family as a result of the lost civil suit.
Attorney Yale Galanter, representing Simpson, stated "Mr. Simpson is a victim, a victim of an attempt to gain payback for his Los Angeles acquittal in 1995."
Judge Glass dismissed Simpson's plea by stating "it was all recorded on tape and there is no question what happened." She sentenced Simpson to 33 years in the Jailhouse with no possibility of parole for at least nine years.
A nearly inconsolable Simpson spoke out to the Judge, stating "I didn't mean to steal anything, I'm sorry." His cry was ignored, his sentence imposed.
Fred Goldman, a witness to the courtroom theatrics, said for all to hear: "It is satisfying seeing him in shackles like he belongs." O.J.'s sister, Shirley Baker, responded, "This isn't over yet!"
A sad ending to a man whose athletic ability was incomparable. A man who, at one time, was as beloved as Michael Jordan by the public, feared as much by opponents as Mike Tyson in his heyday, and respected in society on the level of his own childhood hero, Willie Mays.
Arguably the greatest football player who has ever lived, Simpson wasted his charm and built–up good will when his legal troubles and prior wife–beating charges came to light in the 1995 trial.
And now, the end has come. He is sorry. Aren't we all?