OJ Simpson was a no show for Super Bowl 2020 NFL honor
In 2020, you’d probably never expect to hear “OJ Simpson” and “Super Bowl” mentioned in the same sentence. After all, OJ Simpson hasn’t played football in decades. He’s infamously known as the man who was accused of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. Even during his days as famed football player “the Juice,” Simpson never made it to the Super Bowl.
However, surprisingly, the NFL honored the controversial former football star during Super Bowl LIV. For the NFL’s centennial anniversary, they highlighted 100 of the greatest players from the first 100 years of the league — Simpson was one of them.
Viewers were in absolute disbelief. Twitter basically exploded after Simpson’s name and photo appeared on the screen. While many honorees were on the field for the pregame ceremony, Simpson was nowhere to be found. Here’s how he ended up being honored for the NFL 100 and why he didn’t show up for the occasion.
OJ Simpson used to play for the 49ers
In case you somehow haven’t heard the story, OJ Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife in 1995 after an incredibly high-profile police chase and trial. He was later found guilty of wrongful death in civil court and ordered to pay $35 million in damages.
Decades before Simpson became one of the most infamous and controversial murder defendants of all time, he was a notable football player with multiple awards and records under his belt. Simpson spent most of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills, but he also played with the San Francisco 49ers for one season before retiring from the NFL in 1979. Ironically, the 49ers happened to be one of the teams who played in Super Bowl LIV.
It’s clear that Simpson’s football career and murder trial will forever be intertwined. Case in point? He had to auction off his Heisman Trophy to help pay the $35 million in damages. Despite Simpson’s actions leading up to, during, and after his trial, the NFL has always been rather quiet on the topic of their former star player. For that reason, his inclusion in the NFL 100 at Super Bowl LIV generated mixed feelings.
OJ Simpson was an unexpected NFL 100 honoree
OJ Simpson appeared briefly on-screen during the Super Bowl LIV pregame ceremony for the NFL 100. He was honored alongside other legendary running backs, like former Los Angeles Rams star Eric Dickerson and current Arizona Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald. It’s not clear why the NFL chose this moment to recognize Simpson’s athletic achievements despite his reputation, but the 100 players were chosen by a panel of NFL coaches, former players, and members of the media.
It all happened so quickly that it almost could have slipped through unnoticed — if only hundreds of millions of viewers weren’t watching. Some fans on social media were in shock: “Did they really just put OJ up there as one of the greats?” one person tweeted. Others poked fun at the NFL for it. “NFL 100 put OJ Simpson in the corner next to Larry Fitzgerald and hoped nobody would notice,” said Twitter user Joshua Brisco.
As the news spread, people zoomed in on the field to see if Simpson was present alongside the other greats — he wasn’t. “Why didn’t OJ Simpson make the cut to be on the field with the NFL 100? He had a killer career,” Washington Times columnist Tim Young wrote.
OJ Simpson's travel is restricted due to parole
If the NFL was willing to be so bold as to include OJ Simpson in their list of the 100 greatest players, why didn’t he show up for the honor? The New York Post reports that it may be related to his criminal charges. Simpson went to jail in 2008 for robbery, and he was released on parole in 2017. He currently lives in Las Vegas, Nev., and is only permitted short trips to Florida to visit his family. Even though the Super Bowl was held in Miami, Fla. this year, a trip to the Super Bowl probably wasn’t parole approved.
However, Simpson is on Twitter. He created the account in 2019 and has nearly one million followers. He hasn’t commented on his NFL 100 honor, but, with all the uproar, it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t see it.
Prior to the big game, Simpson said he’d be rooting for his former team, the 49ers. However, after the final play, Simpson uploaded a video congratulating the Kansas City Chiefs on their win.
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