The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project—unveiled every Wednesday from May through July—detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
O.J. Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy, became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season (during a 14-game slate in 1973 no less), starred alongside Arnold Palmer in commercials for Hertz, worked on Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell and appeared in Roots, The Towering Inferno and the Naked Gun movies. Today he may be the most notorious former athlete in America.
The Hall of Fame running back is now best known for the circumstances surrounding the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ronald Goldman in June 1994. Charged with double murder in the case and given the chance to surrender to police on June 17, Simpson instead engaged in a “low-speed chase” with police along the freeways of L.A., in a white Ford Bronco driven by former teammate Al Cowlings—a pursuit that was broadcast live on all three networks and on CNN, interrupting the NBA Finals on NBC. An estimated 95 million views watched the drama unfold. Simpson finally turned himself in later that evening, after reaching his house in Brentwood.
In a criminal case that dragged out for more than a year and that made household names of Johnnie Cochran and Kato Kaelin, introduced America to the Kardashians and brought the phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” into the lexicon, Simpson was eventually found not guilty. However, three years later he lost a wrongful death civil suit brought by the victims’ families and was ordered to pay $33 million. He’s now serving up to 33 years in a Nevada state prison for felony armed robbery and kidnapping, after he tried to steal back sports memorabilia at gunpoint that he said belonged to him. The mementos included his Hall of Fame certificate. The Bronco? It was purchased by a collector and is apparently available to be rented for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.
— Jenny Vrentas