OJ’s death doesn’t solve anything

By Roger Grossman
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — OJ Simpson died last week.

We knew he had cancer, and there were reports that he wasn’t doing well, but I am not sure anyone expected the word to come down that he had passed away.

That news was broken on OJ’s own social media feed, and I really thought that someone had hacked his social media account and chose to fool us all with that message.

It was no joke. The family had posted his passing.

OJ Simpson was gone at the age of 76.

When people die, whether they are well known or hardly known, it’s up to those who are left in their wake to put perspective on the life they lived and their contribution to the lives of others.

In the process of doing that, every effort is made to remember and focus on the positives.
And while that is understandably hard for family and friends to do that in their time of grief, compiling a list of stories and memories that capture the essence of who that person was usually comes pretty easily in most cases—even for the most complicated people.

But this was Orenthal James Simpson, and processing his death was never going to be easy.

It forces us to ask the question: What do we do with OJ Simpson? Let’s start with the facts.

OJ Simpson was a star running back at USC and won the Heisman Trophy after the 1968 college football season.

He was drafted by Buffalo the following spring as the No. 1 overall pick, and he became the first player in NFL history to rush for over two-thousand yards in a single season when he ran for 2,003 in his MVP season of 1973. He broke that record, previously held by Jim Brown, by carrying the ball for 419 yards in his last two games.

Others have since run for more yards in a season, but in 16 games not 14 like OJ had.

He was a good-looking man who was generally not bombastic but an excellent interview who was always good for a quote or two.

He retired from football after 135 games,11,236 yards and 61 touchdowns and a sure place of immortality in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He followed up football with a career in movie acting and TV commercials. He was an excellent pitchman, and no one who was alive then can forget him running through airports and hurdling baggage carts on his way to the rental car counter with people yelling “GO OJ GO!” as he raced by.

In the ultimate irony, people would be yelling those same words at a white Ford Bronco as it passed on Southern California interstates during a low-speed pursuit of Simpson who was wanted in connection to the gruesome death of his ex-wife and her friend in front of her home in 1994.

That pursuit ended at Simpson’s home, with 95-million people watching it via traffic cameras in helicopters. Simpson surrendered, was put on trial which was also televised and was acquitted.

Eventually, his ex-wife’s family sued Simpson and his estate for wrongful death, and they won, which led Simpson to write a book titled “If I did it”. In it, the former football star provided a hypothetical description of the murders. His former in-laws got all of the profits from the book according to the judge’s order.

Simpson did spend time in jail on an unrelated matter. He was sentenced to 33 years but was released after the minimum of 9.

All of what you just read are the facts, and it would be so much easier on all of us if it just ended there.

It doesn’t.

Because we all watched the murder trial, we all became de facto jurors in the trial. We all decided which witnesses we believed and how much weight to put on each piece of evidence.

And when we watched and listened to the verdict read live — “not guilty” — we reacted. Some cried that justice had been served, others screamed in outrage.

I cannot lie … I will always believe that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman that night 30 years ago. I believe the prosecution should have known the bloody gloves were not going to fit OJ because they had been soaked in blood, which made them shrink just like my work gloves do when I rid my gutters of wet leaves and don’t put them back on the next day to reshape them.

I don’t believe his death last week is any form of justice for the Browns, the Goldmans or any of the rest of us.

His death means, unless he left some sort of verifiable confession that we haven’t heard about yet, we are never going to know for sure who killed those two innocent people on that dark walkway in 1994.

If he did do it, he took that secret with him to the urn that his ashes have been poured into.

And with it, the greatest mystery of modern times will go unsolved.

OJ was our only hope of knowing.

But that hope just drove off into the sunset … as if it were in a white Bronco.