Simpson was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set in 1973. While six other players have passed the 2,000-rush yard mark, he stands alone as the only player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a 14-game season; the NFL changed to a 16-game season in 1978. He holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average, which stands at 143.1. Simpson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. After retiring from professional football, he had a career as a football broadcaster and actor.
Simpson was born in San Francisco, the son of Eunice (née Durden; October 23, 1921 – San Francisco, California, November 9, 2001), a hospital administrator, and Jimmy Lee Simpson (Arkansas, January 29, 1920 – San Francisco, California, June 9, 1986), a chef and bank custodian. Simpson's maternal grandparents were from Louisiana. His aunt gave him the name Orenthal, which supposedly was the name of a French actor she liked. Simpson has one brother, Melvin Leon "Truman" Simpson, one living sister, Shirley Simpson-Baker, and one deceased sister, Carmelita Simpson-Durio. As a child, Simpson developed rickets and wore braces on his legs until the age of five. His parents separated in 1952 and he was raised by his mother.
Growing up in San Francisco, Simpson lived in the housing projects of the Potrero Hillneighborhood. In his early teenage years, he joined a street gang called the Persian Warriors and was briefly incarcerated at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center. At Galileo High School(currently Galileo Academy of Science and Technology) in San Francisco, Simpson played for the school football team, the Galileo Lions.
Simpson was awarded an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California, where he played running back for coach John McKay in 1967 and 1968. Simpson led the nation in rushing in 1967 when he ran for 1,543 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He also led the nation in rushing the next year with 383 carries for 1,880 yards.
Another dramatic touchdown in the same game is the subject of the Arnold Friberg oil painting, O.J. Simpson Breaks for Daylight. Simpson also won the Walter Camp Award in 1967 and was a two-time consensus All-American.
Simpson was an aspiring track athlete, in 1967 he lost a 100m race in Stanford against the then British record holder Menzies Campbell. He ran in the USC sprint relay quartet that broke the world record in the 4x110 yard relay at the NCAA track championships in Provo, Utah in June 1967. (While this time has not been beaten, the IAAF now refers to it as a world's best, not a world record. The scarcity of events over distances measured inimperial units resulted in the designation change in 1976.)
In 1968, he rushed for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns, earning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award that year. He still holds the record for the Heisman's largest margin of victory, defeating runner-up Leroy Keyes by 1,750 points. In the 1969 Rose Bowl, where number two USC faced number one Ohio State, Simpson ran for 171 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run in a 16–27 loss.
Simpson was drafted by the AFL's Buffalo Bills, who got first pick in the 1969 AFL-NFLCommon Draft after finishing 1–12–1 in 1968. Early in his professional football career, Simpson struggled on poor Buffalo teams, averaging only 622 yards per season for his first three.
He first rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 1972, gaining a total of 1,251. In 1973, Simpson rushed for a record 2,003 yards, becoming the first player ever to pass the 2,000-yard mark, and scored 12 touchdowns. Simpson gained more than 1,000 rushing yards for each of his next three seasons. From 1972 to 1976, Simpson averaged 1,540 rushing yards per (14 game) season, 5.1 yards per carry, and he won the NFL rushing title four times. Simpson had the best game of his career during the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions on November 25, 1976, when he rushed for a then record 273 yards on 29 attempts and scoring two touchdowns.
Simpson's 1977 season in Buffalo was cut short by injury.
Simpson gained 11,236 rushing yards, placing him 2nd on the NFL's all-time rushing list when he retired; he now stands at 18th. He was named NFL Player of the Year in 1973, and played in six Pro Bowls. He was the only player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14-game season and he's the only player to rush for over 200 yards in six different games in his career. Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility.
Simpson acquired the nickname "Juice" as a play on "O.J.", an informal abbreviation for "Orange Juice". "Juice" is also a colloquial synonym for electricity or electrical power, and hence a metaphor for any powerful entity; the Bills' offensive line at Simpson's peak was nicknamed "The Electric Company."
GP: Games Played, GS: Games Started, Att: Rushing Attempts, Y/A: Yards per Attempt, Y/G: Yards per Game Played, A/G: Rushing Attempts per Game Played, Rec: Receptions, Y/R: Yards per Reception, R/G: Receptions per Game Played, Y/G: Receiving Yards per Game Played.
Simpson in 1990 in Saudi Arabia while visiting American troops during the lead-up to the first Gulf War
Even before his retirement from football and in the NFL, Simpson embarked on a successful film career with parts in films such as the television mini-series Roots (1977), and the dramatic motion pictures The Klansman (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), The Cassandra Crossing (1976), Capricorn One (1978), and the comedic Back to the Beach (1987) and The Naked Gun trilogy (1988, 1991, 1994). In 1979, he started his own film production company, Orenthal Productions, which dealt mostly in made-for-TV fare such as the family-oriented Goldie and the Boxer films with Melissa Michaelsen(1979 and 1981) and Cocaine and Blue Eyes (1983), the pilot for a proposed detective series on NBC. NBC was considering whether to air Frogmen, another series starring Simpson, when his arrest canceled the project.
A part of the murder case that was never televised was the two-hour-long film pilot for Frogmen, a The A-Team-like adventure series starring Simpson, that Warner Bros. Television completed in 1994, a few months before the murders. NBC had not yet decided on whether to order the series when Simpson's arrest cancelled the project. While searching his home the police obtained a videotaped copy of the pilot as well as the script and dailies. Although the prosecution investigated reports that Simpson, who played the leader of a group of former United States Navy SEALs, received "a fair amount of" military training—including use of a knife—for Frogmen, and there is a scene in which he holds a knife to the throat of a woman, it was not introduced as evidence during the trial.
NBC executive Warren Littlefield said in July 1994 that the network would probably never air the pilot if Simpson were convicted; if he were acquitted, however, one television journalist speculated that "Frogmen would probably be on the air before the NBC peacock could unfurl its plume". Most pilots that are two hours long are aired as TV movies whether or not they are ordered as series. Because—as the Los Angeles Times later reported—"the appetite for all things O.J. appeared insatiable" during the trial, Warner Bros. and NBC estimated that a gigantic, Super Bowl-like television audience would have watched the Frogmen film. One of Simpson's co-stars in the film commented that the studio's decision to not air it or even release it on home video, and forego an estimated $14 million in profits, was "just about the only proof you have that there is some dignity in the advertising and television business".
Chuck Barnes helped Simpson form business relationships with Chevrolet and American Broadcast Company early in his career. By 1971, New Yorkwrote that he was already wealthy enough to, "retire this week if [he] wanted to". Simpson's amiable persona and natural charisma landed him numerous endorsement deals. In 1978, he partnered with Arnold Palmer as a spokesman for the Hertz rental car company, in whose commercials he was depicted running through airports, as if to suggest he were back on the football field. Simpson was also a longtime spokesman for Pioneer Chicken and owned two franchises, one of which was destroyed during the 1992 Los Angeles riots; as well as HoneyBaked Ham, the pX Corporation, and Calistoga Water Company's line of Napa Naturals soft drinks. He also appeared in comic book ads for Dingo cowboy boots.
On June 24, 1967, Simpson married Marguerite L. Whitley at age nineteen. Together they had three children: Arnelle L. Simpson (born December 4, 1968), Jason L. Simpson (born April 21, 1970), and Aaren Lashone Simpson (born September 24, 1977). In August 1979, five months after the couple divorced, Aaren drowned in the family's swimming pool a month before her second birthday.
Simpson met Nicole Brown in 1977 while she was working as a waitress at the nightclub "The Daisy". Although still married to his first wife, Simpson began dating Brown. Simpson and Marguerite divorced in March 1979. Brown and Simpson were married on February 2, 1985, five years after his retirement from professional football. The couple had two children, Sydney Brooke Simpson (born October 17, 1985) and Justin Ryan Simpson (born August 6, 1988). The marriage lasted seven years, during which Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 1989. Brown filed for divorce on February 25, 1992 citing "irreconcilable differences".
Simpson stayed in Robert Kardashian's house during the days following the murders. Kardashian was the man seen carrying Simpson's garment bag the day that Simpson flew back from Chicago. Prosecutors speculated that the bag may have contained Simpson's bloody clothes or the murder weapon.
On June 12, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found stabbed to death outside Brown's condominium in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Simpson was a person of interest in their murders. On June 17, after failing to turn himself in, he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white Ford BroncoSUV that interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history. The trial, often characterized as the Trial of the century because of its international publicity similar to Sacco and Vanzetti and theLindbergh kidnapping, culminated on October 3, 1995 in a jury verdict of "not guilty" for the two murders. An estimated 100 million people nationwide stopped what they were doing to watch or listen to the verdict announcement. Following Simpson's acquittal, the crime remains unsolved to this day.
Immediate reaction to the verdict was notable for its division along racial lines: a poll of Los Angeles County residents showed that most African-Americans there felt that justice had been served by the "not guilty" verdict, while the majority of white and a majority of those Latinos expressing an opinion did not. O. J. Simpson's integrated defense counsel included Johnnie Cochran, Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, and F. Lee Bailey, who did battle against prosecutor Marcia Clark.
On February 5, 1997, a civil jury in Santa Monica, California, unanimously found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Goldman, and battery against Brown. Daniel Petrocelli represented plaintiff Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father. Simpson was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages; in February 1999, anAUCTION of Simpson's Heisman Trophy and other belongings netted almost $500,000, which went to the Goldman family.
A 2000 Rolling Stone article reported that Simpson still made a significant income by signing autographs. He subsequently moved from California toFlorida, settling in Miami. In Florida, among a few states, a person's residence cannot be seized to collect a debt under most circumstances. The Goldman family also tried to collect Simpson's NFL $28,000 yearly pension but failed to collect anyMONEY.
On September 5, 2006, Goldman's father took Simpson back to court to obtain control over his "right to publicity" for purposes of satisfying the judgment in the civil court case. On January 4, 2007, a Federal judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Simpson from spending any advance he may have received on a canceled bookDEAL and TV interview about the 1994 murders. The matter was dismissed before trial for lack of jurisdiction. On January 19, 2007, a California state judge issued an additional restraining order, ordering Simpson to restrict his spending to "ordinary and necessary living expenses".
Book cover for If I Did It, with "If" in very small print, embedded in the word "I"
On March 13, 2007, a judge prevented Simpson from receiving any further compensation from the defunct book deal and TV interview. He ordered the bundled book rights to beAUCTIONED. In August 2007, a FloridaBANKRUPTCY court awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family to partially satisfy an unpaid civil judgment. The book was renamed If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer, with the word "If" reduced in size to make it appear that the title was "I Did It: Confessions of the Killer". Additional material was added by members of the Goldman family, investigative journalist Dominick Dunne, and author Pablo Fenjves. The Goldman family was listed as the author.
The State of California claims Simpson owes $1.44 million in past due taxes. A tax lien was filed in his case on September 1, 1999.
In the late 1990s, Simpson attempted toREGISTER "O.J. Simpson", "O.J.", and "The Juice" as trademarks for "a broad range of goods, including figurines, trading cards, sportswear, medallions, coins, and prepaid telephone cards." A "concerned citizen", William B. Ritchie, sued to oppose the granting of federalREGISTRATION on the grounds that doing so would be immoral and scandalous. Simpson gave up the effort in 2000.
In February 2001, Simpson was arrested in Miami-Dade County, Florida for simple battery and burglary of an occupied conveyance for allegedly yanking the glasses off another motorist during a traffic dispute three months earlier. If convicted, Simpson could have faced up to sixteen years in prison, but he was put on trial and quickly acquitted on both charges in October 2001.
Simpson's Miami home was searched by the FBI on December 4, 2001 on suspicion of ecstasypossession and money laundering. The FBI had received a tip that O.J. Simpson was involved in a major drug trafficking ring after 10 other suspects were arrested in the case. Simpson's home was thoroughly searched for two hours, but no illegal drugs were discovered, and no arrest or formal charges were filed following the search. However, investigators uncovered equipment capable of stealing satellite television programming, which eventually led to Simpson's being sued in federal court.
On July 4, 2002, Simpson was arrested in Miami-Dade County, Florida for speeding through a manatee protection zone and failing to comply with proper boating regulations. Yale Galanter, his criminal defense attorney, was able to get the misdemeanor boating regulation charge dropped and Simpson only had to pay a fine for the speeding infraction.
In March 2004, satellite television network DirecTV, Inc. accused Simpson in a Miami federal court of using illegal electronic devices to pirate its broadcast signals. The company later won a $25,000 judgment, and Simpson was ordered to pay an additional $33,678 in attorney's fees and costs.
In September 2007, a group of men led by Simpson entered a room at the Palace Station hotel-casino and took sports memorabilia at gunpoint, which resulted in Simpson's being questioned by police. Simpson admitted to taking the items, which he said had been stolen from him, but denied breaking into the hotel room; he also denied that he or anyone else carried a gun. He was released after questioning.
Two days later Simpson was arrested and initially held without bail. Along with three other men, Simpson was charged with multiple felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon. Bail was set at $125,000, with stipulations that Simpson have no contact with the co-defendants and that he surrender his passport. Simpson did not enter a plea.
By the end of October 2007, all three of Simpson's co-defendants had plea-bargained with the prosecution in the Clark County, Nevada court case. Walter Alexander and Charles H. Cashmore accepted plea agreements in exchange for reduced charges and their testimony against Simpson and three other co-defendants, including testimony that guns were used in the robbery. Co-defendant Michael McClinton told a Las Vegas judge that he too would plead guilty to reduced charges and testify against Simpson that guns were used in the robbery. After the hearings, the judge ordered that Simpson be tried for the robbery.
Simpson's preliminary hearing, to decide whether he would be tried for the charges, occurred on November 8, 2007. He was held over for trial on all 12 counts. Simpson pleaded not guilty on November 29. Court officers and attorneys announced on May 22, 2008, that long questionnaires with at least 115 queries would be given to a jury pool of 400 or more. Trial was reset from April to September 8, 2008.
In January 2008, Simpson was taken into custody in Florida and flown to Las Vegas, where he was incarcerated at the county jail for allegedly violating the terms of his bail by attempting to contact Clarence "C.J." Stewart, a co-defendant in the trial. District Attorney David Roger of Clark County provided District Court Judge Jackie Glass with evidence that Simpson had violated his bail terms. A hearing took place on January 16, 2008. Glass raised Simpson's bail to US$250,000 and ordered that he remain in county jail until 15 percent was paid in cash. Simpson posted bond that evening and returned to Miami the next day.
Simpson and his co-defendant were found guilty of all charges on October 3, 2008. On October 10, 2008, O. J. Simpson's counsels moved for new trial (trial de novo) on grounds of judicial errors (two African-American jurors were dismissed) and insufficient evidence. Galanter announced he would appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court if Judge Glass denied the motion. The attorney for Simpson's co-defendant, C.J. Stewart, petitioned for a new trial, alleging Stewart should have been tried separately, and cited perceived misconduct by the jury foreman, Paul Connelly.
Simpson faced a possible life sentence with parole on the kidnapping charge, and mandatory prison time for armed robbery. On December 5, 2008, Simpson was sentenced to a total of thirty-three years in prison with the possibility of parole after about nine years, in 2017. On September 4, 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a request for bail during Simpson's appeal. In October 2010, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed his convictions. He is now serving his sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center and his inmate ID number is #1027820.
A Nevada judge agreed on October 19, 2012 to "reopen the armed robbery and kidnapping case against O.J. Simpson to determine if the former football star was so badly represented by his lawyers that he should be freed from prison and get another trial." A hearing was held beginning May 13, 2013 to determine if Simpson is entitled to a new trial. On November 27, 2013, Judge Linda Bell denied Simpson's bid for a new trial on the robbery conviction. In her ruling, Bell wrote that all of Simpson's contentions lacked merit.
On July 31, 2013, the NevadaParole Board granted Simpson parole on some charges from armed robbery convictions, but he will continue to be held for at least four years on other charges.