In a recent interview with The Athletic, former NFL star and accused double murderer O.J. Simpson claimed he avoids the Los Angeles area for fear that he will end up “sitting next” to the murderer of his ex-wife and her friend, adding that he still believes himself to be a “good guy” and claiming that if one is famous today, it “doesn’t matter” if one is good or bad.
As part of The Athletic‘s NFL 100 project, whereby 100 best players in football history are unveiled daily until the season begins, Simpson — ranking No. 41 — sat down to discuss his life and career on Friday.
Simpson, who had been charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994 and later acquitted, began by detailing his current lifestyle, which he believes many would envy.
“How many Americans, even today, wouldn’t like to live my life?” Simpson asks. “I don’t work. I play golf four or five days a week. I go out to dinner a couple of nights with friends. People want to buy me drinks. I’m always taking pictures with people. Ladies hug me.”
“I’m living a good life now,” he added.
He also claimed that all in all he is treated well by society.
“I have loyal, terrific friends,” Simpson said. “The only people that abandoned me are the ones who were asking me for favors all the time. I don’t need them. I couldn’t care less. The general public, despite what the media says, treat me well.”
“A lot of people think of me as a legend,” Simpson added, “especially younger guys because they’ve heard of me their whole lives — no matter what it was for. Most people who weren’t around, anybody younger than 25, they just see a celebrity.”
Referring to the 1994 murder of his ex-wife and her friend and subsequent legal troubles as “the L.A. thing,” the former Buffalo Bills running back said he still believes himself to be a good person.
“The L.A. thing, unfortunately, some people wrongfully believe something, but I moved on. I still think I’m a good guy. I didn’t let it change me. It did for a while. I was angry for a while, but I treat everybody the way I want to be treated.”
Despite fully unrestricted travel, Simpson said he has no interest in returning to Los Angeles.
“I have trouble with L.A.,” Simpson says. “People may think this is self-serving, but I might be sitting next to whoever did it. I really don’t know who did this.”
When asked if he thought the world would ever learn what actually occurred the night of the murders, the 74-year-old former professional American football player expressed his hope that someone would eventually confess and absolve him of guilt.
“I figured eventually somebody would confess to something, you know?” he said. “I had one suspect I told my lawyers to look at. I still think he might be involved, but I can’t talk about it.”
He also expressed his hope that “the other stuff” would be omitted from his future obituary.
“I hope it starts out with football,” he said. “I know they’re going to add the other stuff.”
Simpson, who was eventually acquitted of the murders despite being held civilly liable for them, also stated he is a firm believer in the justice system.
“I did my time better than anybody can do time,” Simpson said. “I got out, and you’ll never hear me dog the jury because I believe in the system.”
He then blasted those who would profess to believe in the system while criticizing his acquittal.
“How can you tell me you believe in the goddamn system, but you got problems with me living my life now? Because your attitude was different than the jury, who heard all the evidence and didn’t have the media influence?” he asked.
“Then you try to present yourself as a good American. Bullshit, you’re not. You don’t believe in the American system,” he added.
Simpson concluded by claiming he has learned that fame supersedes one’s character.
“Fame is a weird thing. Doesn’t matter if you’re a good person or a bad person in this day and age. If you’re famous, you’ve got an edge in America,” he said.
“Fame supersedes whether you’re good or bad, and everybody is after the fame,” he added.
Simpson, an NFL Hall of Famer who played for the Buffalo Bills and acted in several movies, was arrested in 1994 after Nicole Brown Simpson, the mother of Simpson’s two children, was essentially decapitated and her friend Ronald Goldman slashed to death.
After eight months, Simpson’s criminal trial — dubbed the “trial of the century” — ended with his acquittal, though a 1997 civil trial found him liable for the deaths.
Many believe Simpson seemingly confessed to the murders after giving a hypothetical account of the murders for his book, titled If I Did It in 2007.
In 2018, while speaking hypothetically about the murders with TMZ, Simpson switched to a first-person discussion of the murders, and at one point even said, “I remember I grabbed the knife” before killing Goldman.
Simpson eventually served nine years in prison for another crime after he was arrested and charged with an armed memorabilia heist in 2007 and sentenced to a 33-year prison term, of which he was paroled in 2017.
Simpson has weighed in on a number of political issues in recent months.
In May, Simpson showed support for embattled Republican House Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), saying “Liz Cheney stands up for the truth. That’s gotten her a lot of heat,” while criticizing the Republican Party, claiming, “fact-based truth and honesty seem to be the enemy of many of these Republican politicians.”
In April, Simpson said Derek Chauvin used “unnecessary force” in his apprehension of George Floyd while defending Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) comments regarding Chauvin’s trial.
“I thought it was a classic case of depraved indifference. I thought it was unnecessary force and no matter which side you’re on,” he said.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.