Orenthal James Simpson is – or soon will be – a free man.
The man known as “O.J.,” whose life has been well-documented — the good, bad, and horrific — will soon be walking free among the masses again. Simpson, 70, is set for parole on October 1, after serving nearly nine years out of a 33-year sentence for his participation of armed robbery and kidnapping in a Nevada hotel in 2007.
The decision to receive parole – with yet to be announced parole conditions — came unanimously from the four members of the parole board who were hearing the case.
Most millennials only know Simpson for the murder trial and not that he was more or less a black man’s version of Peyton Manning from the 1970s up until that ill-fated summer of 1994. Simpson, like Manning, had a Hall of Fame-worthy football career, was charming, a great salesperson, movie and television actor, a prominent voice for National Football League telecasts, arguably the American pitchman, and was seen all over television screens for the better part of three decades.
But now? Simpson is persona non grata – and has been that way for over two decades. An earlier poll by FiveThirtyEight stated that 83% of white Americans and 57% of African Americans thought he’s a murderer. So, even when he gets out, he’ll still be shunned by the masses and won’t really have a “home” to go to, in a metaphorical sense, as he doesn’t have a constituency to speak for and represent.
Essentially, a majority of society will be closed for O.J. And it’s not like Pete Rose, who was a genius in flipping his dishonor into a profitable and endearing second act of his life. No, what Simpson has allegedly and actually done (gotten away with?) will forever be seen as deplorable and unforgivable by the masses. As the TV talking heads noted during the live telecast of Simpson’s parole hearing, O.J. needs to give the ol’ Heisman to the public and any requests from the media.
Of course, there won’t be any tears shed for Simpson. Especially as he gets yet another chance at life – and not when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman will never know that feeling. And the victims’ still-suffering families will never know that feeling as well.
Thursday’s hearing was interesting, especially given Simpson’s tone at times. He was somewhat combative and defiant, making light of his crime. Such unawareness (hubris?) was striking. Simpson either knew or should’ve known how radioactive he was before that night in 2007. Any negative attention cast his way wasn’t going to be accepted in a favorable light by the judicial system. But the fact that Simpson served the minimum time because he was, by all accounts, a model prisoner – despite his off-putting nature during the hearing – was enough for the board to believe in his reform. The commissioners, whether people agree or disagree with the decision, did what they had to do based off the guidelines of which they had to follow.
His foot-in-mouth combative nature at the hearing aside, Simpson’s cause was likely aided by the fact that his daughter Arnelle Simpson and friend Bruce Fromong, the man Simpson robbed that night, spoke on his behalf.
It’ll be interesting to hear the parameters of Simpson’s parole, as he’s in the midst of the fourth quarter of his life. But regardless of the stipulations, O.J. Simpson must (needs?) to find a way to no longer see his name in the papers, online, on TMZ…anywhere.