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On this everyone can agree – O.J. Simpson really messed up.

No. Not that he killed his ex-wife Nicole and her boyfriend Ron Goldman in 1994. The college and professional football legend had nothing to do with their demises. Rather, O.J. tempted fate and got severely scorched by it when he crossed the Mojave Desert into Nevada in order to retrieve memorabilia he believed still his.

The items he sought regaining may or may not have held deep in heart and soul value. Or they were just articles he realized he’d previously sold for a song. Years on, aware of what they’d fetch on a richer collectors’ market, possibly feeling some sort of sting after having earlier exchanged them for such paltry prices, he somehow reckoned the previous dealings disadvantageous.

O.J. Simpson wanted to right wrongs committed against O.J. Simpson.

Who doubts O.J. was the sort of man who occasionally spoke of himself in the third person?

Convoluted as the reason posited for his ultimately disastrous 2007 Las Vegas expedition inside the Palace Hotel, who also doubts that after a lifetime bathed in the brightest limelight and, depending on how it’s seen, beneficiary of the greatest judicial escape or worst miscarriage of justice, a sense of invulnerability must’ve suffused O.J.

As a gridiron god then afterwards as a celebrity demigod, believing rivers bent his way probably warped his perception. Of himself and of how the world genuflected towards him. The hordes of us without any celebrity status at all never would’ve considered pulling an act as brazen as the strongarm robbery O.J. attempted.

Because only a minute percentage of mankind has ever been fascinating. Most of us aren’t alluring in that way. The detritus of our ordinary lives could never rouse the attraction of once having been a possession of …

Cocksure as life had made him, O.J. never remotely considered any possibility of his theft going awry. Shows what an amateur he was in that respect. His contingency consisted of not getting caught.

Even at the end of his Nevada cockup, enough of his old dazzle availed for O.J. to avoid just sentencing. If another perpetrator had committed a crime involving a gun, it’s unlikely Silver State authorities would’ve extended him or her the leniency of any plea bargain.

O.J. had that chance in Nevada. Yes, he would’ve served several years behind bars. Yes, subsequent probation conditions might’ve been exacting. But after a shortened jail time and probation requiring him to jump backwards through flaming hoops the price to remain free, erase the days then stay limber.

Since his crime occurred in Las Vegas, O.J. rolled the dice. His was a sucker bet.

Having escaped far more onerous judgment on the West Coast, in Nevada he misjudged the seriousness of his crime. He also failed taking into account how society had absolutely soured on him after 13 years. And finally, the disposition of authorities. In 1994, O.J. benefited from deferential treatment. The kind befitting a luminary.

In 2007, he discovered what countless Californians have – Golden State cachet ends at the border. Often abruptly.

The judge presiding over the O.J. Simpson Las Vegas armed robbery trial was laser focused on dispensing justice “delayed” in California. Her astringency matched the high desert’s aridity. When the verdict was returned, dispassionate as the judge ought have appeared, she took severe satisfaction in pronouncing sentence.

Again, a plea would’ve demanded his incarceration. A plea also would’ve lessened the years imposed on him.

That instant the judge sentenced O.J. he finished being “the Juice!” forever.

Readers of certain ages who watched Monday Night Football during its earliest seasons will remember announcer Howard Cosell providing game commentary. Forming a broadcast booth triumvirate with ex-jocks Frank Gifford and Don Meredith, the acerbic Cosell was tart counterpoint to the staid Gifford and irreverent Meredith.

Unusual an amalgamation as they formed, their ingredients meshed into entertainment.

During those broadcasts featuring the team on which O.J. Simpson earned his professional renown, the Buffalo Bills, Cosell perfectly spoke the running back’s nickname over the air. Um, not spoke. Expulsed. Behind his utterances there was a force, a propulsion, a pop, indicative of O.J.’s presence and effect between the lines.

Out of Cosell’s mouth, unlike from other announcers’ yaps, “the Juice” became “THE JUICE!” Through Cosell’s vehemence, he transformed O.J. into the kind of figure rap culture would later clarify and expand into the notion of “all eyez on me!”

The Mack. The Big Willy. The Man. That Cosell shared reciprocal affinity with urban America further stoked receptivity. His version of “the Juice!” could nearly come across as an honorable expletive acknowledging utmost respect.

The last occasion O.J.’s nickname may’ve stirred such response occurred during his 1995 murder trial. Like the revolution will be, this spectacle was televised. It was inescapable.

During court proceedings, famed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey summarized some issue. Not that it was dry, but the legalese aroused nobody. But suddenly Bailey’s raspy voice attained urgency. He was making a point favorable to the defendant. At his peroration, Bailey assembled some rhetorical pieces concluding with a vicious flourish of “THE JUICE!” It startled courtroom personnel and observers upright.

After Bailey energized the chamber, a camera cut to O.J. seated at the defense table. Droning legal proceedings had the ex-football player struggling to look engaged. Until Bailey erupted. Afterwards, O.J. straightened his posture. He broadened his shoulders. His manner shifted into the mien of a man whose very presence once simply commanded attention. For a moment while being battered by real life, he remembered who he had been.


A little over a decade later, that same feeling probably let him and his accomplices barge into a Las Vegas hotel room. Sad, though not tragic, O.J. never realized “the Juice” was no more.

The same sort of inability to let go had him intersecting badly with Nicole, Ron, and their murders. Had he acknowledged to himself he and his ex-wife had completely diverged, O.J. Simpson would’ve been a peripheral character in what transpired that night on Bundy Drive.

Extremely far more so than memorabilia, he just couldn’t release her.

Yeah. He’d been spying on her. Okay. Stalking. Familiar as O.J. was with the neighborhood surrounding her address, he, of all people, best knew the ins and outs on how to avoid detection.

I have no idea how this works psychologically, but a part of O.J. enjoyed watching her cavort with the lovers she took. In some weird way other men Nicole beguiled possibly further validated the ex-husband’s taste in her. Naturally it also enraged him to see different men exchanging indulgences with his ex-wife. And on the third hand, who could put it past him to somehow envision them reuniting?

Man-woman relations are linear. Or orbital. The Simpsons’ went haywire.

Again, yeah. O.J. was there on Bundy Drive that night. He arrived after the carnage, though.

“After?” Yes, after. O.J. could’ve murdered his wife and whoever she entertained that evening. Ron Goldman just happened to have gotten the call from the bullpen. Was being in a red-eyed rage beyond O.J. Simpson? No. There’s plenty of evidence he had fits of jealous anger. So, it wasn’t beyond him. It’s not beyond any of us. Happy to disillusion your virtue with that.

But O.J. Simpson did not suddenly gain ninja strength and speed. The kind necessary to kill a younger man in substantially better shape as well as a woman well aware of his violent tendencies. Nicole would’ve fought him to the death. Because if she’d been faced with that moment, yes, she would’ve clawed, bit, and gouged until O.J. was in shreds or until exhaling her last breath.

Nonetheless, O.J. Simpson did not kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend. The reason is, and I love when I present it, because it jolts those absolutely convinced the hall-of-famer is among the most heinous of modern-day American killers.

See, on that night Nicole’s and O.J.’s children were at home. They were upstairs asleep.

And other than Nicole who best knew this? That’s right. None other than the prime suspect himself.

Now, as I enjoyed asking during the heat of his 1995 trial, who believes O.J., knowing his children at home, would kill their mother as well as leave another body for them to find? Or better, wonder if one child or the other or both children woke up, saw downstairs lighted, and descended for, let’s say, a glass of water. Or had a nightmare only mommy could dispel.

Who thinks O.J. such a monster he would’ve left a Manson Family-like crime scene for his children to stumble across?

Truth, though, if those children hadn’t been in the house, and those murders committed that night, and the circumstantial evidence – paltry as it was – littered around him, I would’ve somewhat agreed that O.J. stood in a tough spot.

Yet the children were home. Indeed, proof the Almighty protects children and fools.

All know what happened. The question becomes “who?”

While O.J. muddied this case’s trial, though he did so for the best reasons. He behaved like a parent.

Thirty years later, all the principals dead and gone, we may finally smudge Nicole’s halo. Lauded as she was during the crime’s aftermath, one could postulate she was grubby. But attractively grubby.

Let’s suppose she dealt. Yes, mom was a dealer, a connection who belied the usual image of a sketchy purveyor of illicit substances. Suburban Mom as Nurse Feelgood.

At the beginning it was just to augment what alimony O.J. paid. But as we get older, sometimes our tastes expand past our means. And well she might’ve tried squeezing more from O.J., but in 1992 he endured a financial hard knock.

Then, he owned a couple of franchise outlets. Just one was profitable. Rather than cut his losses and shutter the losing proposition, he let revenues from the other address prop it. For some reason, O.J. Simpson did not want to throw people out of work.

This worked fine until the verdict was rendered in the case of Rodney King v. the police. As bad luck would have it, rioters ravaged the moneymaking store. Therefore, not only must the entrepreneur close his surviving venue but he also realized less income.

Immaterial because Nicole had been slinging for a while. Just thought I’d throw a “good” O.J. story in here. Monstrous as tabloid press and mendacious third parties made him seem, he still exhibited worthwhile traits. Most will never be told.

Nicole slung because she used. Not that she was a skeazer. She liked what it did for her. Better, she didn’t let what she liked skag her out. Nicole exhibited self-control. She maintained her appearance.

It’s a good question who approached who first. Did Nicole make a proposal to her supplier, or did he suggest a “franchise possibility” to her? Let’s go with the former. The latter is too risky.

Instead of some skeevy street dealer looking to jump up into management ranks, the nerviness of Suburban Mom must’ve been impressive. Bet she had facts and figures and forecasts down cold. Best of all she didn’t sniffle.

In Nicole’s neighborhood, among her circle, awaited a lucrative clientele. Don’t doubt the common fears among them about the uncertainty of their connections, whether that be quality of goods or buyers given up as bargaining chips after a bust.

As Nicole must’ve emphasized, with her as source far fewer worries about vatos or gangbangers looking conspicuous throughout Brentwood. Among presentable people, she would be just another presentable person. Besides, it’d justify the markup.

No one knows how long this transactional relationship lasted. O.J. learned because he knew those kind of people. Of course, they’d be happy to keep him apprised. Somehow, I don’t think he and Nicole sat down one day and chatted about her retailing skills. Possibly putting their children in jeopardy? That might’ve been a discussion which could’ve led him to kill her.

So, maybe besides living vicariously through some younger guy having at it with his ex-wife, O.J.’s stealth calls on Bundy Drive also might’ve derived from concern.

For a while business satisfied. Until it didn’t. Let’s speculate matters went sideways for the oldest reason around. Money. Nicole started coming up short. Needless to speculate why. Those would be myriad trails. But that kind of rope is short. She ran out of it quickly.

Before it became fraught, Nicole’s skipper must’ve warned her. Like O.J. would later in Nevada, Nicole might’ve seen herself as “invulnerable.” No, in Los Angeles selling contraband to presentable people, “indispensable.” The clientele, what it gladly overpaid for terrific merchandise, heightened safety through under the radar delivery, she possibly believed no way he could’ve forfeited that.

In a cosh boardroom with numb and happy shareholders, such an argument might’ve carried weight. But who doesn’t know her skipper was a different kind of bottom-line guy. He was a “Where’s my motherfucking money!?” kinda of guy.

Thinking O.J. the worst sort of impulsive man she’d ever dealt with, Nicole didn’t actually blow off the skipper. She just fatally underestimated him.

The night chosen randomly. The skipper would’ve dispatched several of his more impressive zips over to Bundy Drive to either collect what Nicole owed or scare the bejeez out of Suburban Mom. A good businessman, he likely told his no-necks go easy on her if it came to any rough stuff.

“Nothing in the face.”

June 13th, 1994. A night with Ron Goldman in attendance. Wondered if his spidey sense tingled when the harsh element entered Nicole’s house. Yes, one of the skipper’s men asked Nicole to put the dog in another room. He probably told her dogs made him nervous. Oooh. Didn’t everybody grin? A proper hostess, Nicole complied.

Preliminaries finished, one or two or however many “guests” possibly got up close and personal on the way to really ugly quickly. Maybe Ron knew about her sideline. Did or didn’t, chivalry ought have kicked in. Maybe Suburban Mom got mouthy. What this situation needed was their silence and head nodding. Acquiescence. And if Nicole had some substantial amounts of loose green squirreled away, time had arrived for it to have been coughed up and forked over. If the amount insufficient, what ought have followed was her hasty promise of “the rest tomorrow!”

Clearly, this did not happen.

Can’t even surmise how long afterwards O.J. showed up. Nicole and Ron were done. Stepping as nimbly as possible considering the rage and fear fighting for control inside him, the ex-football star running back climbed the stairs. How many moments did he spend gathering himself before checking on his children? Does that time fly fast or pass glacially? Is it an instant or an eternity?

His son and daughter slumbered unharmed.

Sure. O.J. thought about phoning 911. Then you bet he thought better. Sliced and parsed however, events at the scene were bad for him. Wisely aware of how he’d be made to fit in this predicament, O.J. Simpson knew Los Angeles homicide detectives would see him as a gift-wrapped present from Joe Friday.

Even if the gridiron legend informed police about Nicole’s sideline, and even if they regarded his information as valid investigative pursuit, it wouldn’t have taken anything at all for her skipper to reach out, to induce O.J. to immediately recant and be unhelpful. Because otherwise that guy would’ve put the Simpson children in play.

O.J. knew this.

And for the last time on Bundy Drive, he used his stealth skills. O.J. heard the dog. He freed the pooch from containment. Could he have known what the dog’s instincts would lead it to do? Alert neighbors in some way. A quiet place like Bundy has a routine. A barking dog, a loose noisy dog, would’ve been out of place. This would’ve drawn interest in that neighborhood.

Careful as he’d been, O.J. still somehow left a distinct footprint. Likely while freeing the dog. That one drop of victim’s blood found in his car? His person brushed an object upon which blood had been flung. Someway this one drop got transferred into the car.

Okay. What transferred it?

Amazing after the savagery which killed Nicole and Ron only one footprint and one drop of blood were enough to tie O.J. to a splattery slaughter. One might have thought he’d have been drenched in blood, dripping the stuff as he left the crime scene. The interior of his vehicle liberally sprinkled with said guilt.

Surprised none of the most vociferous O.J. haters didn’t keep driving beyond “the meticulous planning of his premeditation.” How did none of them suggest he also wore a hazmat suit that night?

“From thereon …” as a later-day radio raconteur of Paul Harvey’s eminence might’ve intoned, “comes the rest of the tabloid roadkill story.”