Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Is "The Juice" Finally Getting Squeezed?

"O.J. is back on the loose. He was released on a $125,000 bail today in Las Vegas. O.J. has been charged with 10 felonies, including robbery with a deadly weapon and kidnapping. He could get life in prison for all this. Isn't that something? You kill two people, you get nothing -- but steal your own football jersey, you go away for life.” –Jimmy Kimmel, earlier this year

When you’re famous, being on the butt end of a joke is somewhat normal. Whether from the mouth of Jimmy Kimmel, Leno or Letterman, being mentioned during the opening monologue is something of an endorsement that you are a Somebody. You are newsworthy enough to be a household name.

When all the laughing dies down, however, a lot of it is not really that funny. Take O.J. Simpson for example. This past Friday he was convicted in Las Vegas of kidnapping, armed robbery and ten other charges. Evidently his luck has run out.

He always was a great runner. He also had an affable, winning style that made him popular after his football career ended. Thus it was an easy jump for another touchdown in Hollywood. Fame and fortune seemed to fall into his lap… though we also know, for the record, that you don't make the big time as an athlete without a lot of hard work. We did not know, however, about his dark side.

When his beautiful wife Nicole was murdered, all the pretty pictures came tumbling down as the scene switched from light hearted fun to dead serious realities. His double murder trial revealed much more about O.J. than many wanted to see.

Many believed he had been set up. Many even cheered when it appeared he was going to try to escape… make a run for it. He was suicidal in that intense moment because he did not want to face the humiliation he’d be going through. I am sure he felt shame at having let so many people down.

But, O.J. got off. He walked, purportedly innocent according to the law. Later, better lawyers in a civil trial were more successful in pinning responsibility on The Juice, his nickname from the football era. In the second trial, the court determined he must pay 33 million dollars to the families of the two victims. Seems like that says a thing or two, but in more than a decade he paid nothing… living high on the hog, signing autographs, enjoying the stature of being an American celebrity.

It’s all very sad.

Then he had the gall to write a book titled “If I Did It,” explaining his rationale for committing such a crime, were he the kind of guy who would do such an appalling thing.

But sadder still, with the interactive nature of today’s news, where readers can write comments on journalists’ work, one becomes increasingly aware of how divided the nation is still. When O.J. was arrested for his Las Vegas misdeeds, one of the comments on that breaking story was, “Why are they still picking on O.J.?”

Well, duh. Maybe because he committed a crime? It’s not because he is black. I haven’t seen any stories like this about Bill Cosby, Lynn Swann or Tiger Woods.

Here’s the Associated Press story by Linda Deutsch two hours after O.J.’s most recent debacle, ie. conviction.

In the end, O.J. Simpson rolls snake eyes in Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — In a city where luck means everything, O.J. Simpson came out the big loser — and his unlucky number in a case full of bizarre twists was 13.
He was convicted of an armed robbery that happened on Sept. 13 and was found guilty on the 13th anniversary of his Los Angeles murder acquittal. The Las Vegas jury deliberated for 13 hours after a 13-day trial.

When the news initially broke, Conan O’Brien put it this way: "Earlier today, O.J. Simpson was charged with 11 criminal counts, including kidnapping, robbery and assault. Afterwards, O.J. said, 'Wow. Now I really have done it all.'"

Much more could be said, but let’s just turn the page. Please.

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