|ESPN.com: Juice Unplugged - Transcript|
Full transcript of the O.J. interview See video of the uncut interview on ESPN360.com.
Graham Bensinger: We're going to start out talking some football. Do you still pay close attention to the game?
O.J. Simpson: You know, not quite the way I did in the past. It's not like I'm looking at the rosters of every team, trying to figure out who's going to impact what team. Yeah, I mean in general, the TO situation, Ricky Williams, obviously being in Miami, and having talked to Ricky on occasion over the last year or so; I pay a little attention to that. I'm always watching my 49ers. They have a local kid who I got to know who played for the (Miami Hurriacnes) named Frank Gore, in the third round. I'm curious to see how he's going to do there.
Bensinger: Before we get to that one, I wanted to ask you a little about USC.
Simpson: (chants) We are SC!!!
Bensinger: You know Matt Leinart, could have probably been No. 1 in this year's draft; won the Heisman Trophy yet he elected to go back to college for his senior year ... surprising?
Simpson: Yes, I find it surprised about everybody. I had heard that he had some arm problems, which obviously he did; he had a little bit of surgery, but I don't think that would have impacted his contract if he had gone pro. There's good and bad, obviously if you have a guy of his caliber coming back with the team that they have. They had a couple of kids drop, John Booty and this kid, (Mark) Sanchez, who are excellent quarterbacks; sometimes you may have to look at it in a different way, now these guys have to wait another year for them to get their chance. Pete Carroll has done such a tremendous job with playing the freshmen, getting the kids ready, because he knows for the most part, in 36 months, they're gone. If they're red-shirted or if they're not re-shirted, they're going to be gone.
Bensinger: More significant to you, the Heisman Trophy or NFL MVP?
Simpson: Oh, I would say the Heisman Trophy, maybe a little more than the NFL MVP. They both were very, very important. The Heisman Trophy signifies that you're a part of an exclusive club, that even to the day, I think they're only about 50 something guys, maybe, as members of it in the country and to be voted of all the college players to be voted, far more than there are pro players in the country to be voted, the best in the county, I would say the Heisman, I would probably look at it as slightly a bigger honor. I don't think people would remember who was MVP in the NFL in '86 or '94 or won even. When you've won the Heisman Trophy, you carry a title with you the rest of your life.
Bensinger: Then you were the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Was it sort of a rude awakening for you though, you come into the NFL and there's all this hype and John Rouch basically uses you as a decoy your first couple of years?
Simpson: You know it was interesting; I didn't know that much about Buffalo; I never followed the AFL, other than because when I was in San Francisco, we had Oakland across the bay, so you would see them play occasionally. I was a big 49ers fan, I was a traditionalist in that the old NFL teams, I grew up watching them, following them, so I wanted to be the first guy chosen, as a matter of fact, I knew I would be. I was hoping at the end of the season, the Steelers played against Philly, in a game that they named "The O.J. Bowl," because they thought that the team that would lose would get the first pick in the draft and would draft me. (Rams coach) George Allen had told me, if I went to an NFL team, he would trade for me if he had three No. 1 draft choices and I would be with the Rams. I would still be playing in the Coliseum, in L.A. and even as an old 49ers' fan, the Rams were, you know, arch-enemies. In any event, Buffalo lost to Denver, I think. Buffalo had been a championship team just the previous year; they ended up with the worst record. Of course, then there was no inter-league trading, so, I got drafted by the Bills, and my ego loved the fact that I was the first guy chosen, but the harsh reality was that I went to a part of the country I knew nothing about; you know snow and what was a franchise that was in complete disarray.
Bensinger: And it wasn't until Lou Saban became head coach that you really took off and his cousin Nick has gone from LSU to the Miami Dolphins.
Simpson: I didn't know they were related.
Bensinger: Why do you think that NFL coaches or head coaches, just typically have so much trouble in making that transition from college to the NFL?
Simpson: I don't know if they do. Some guys will come in and Dick Vermeil was a terrific coach in the pros. I guess if I looked around and thought about it, I could find one or two other guys that have done a good job. If there's a problem, it's one thing dealing with college kids; you can talk to them a certain way, and say things to them and get certain reactions. When you start dealing with pro players, you've got some guys, especially when they're making $6 million or $10 million, the average lineman is making $3 million or $4 million, you know, I don't think you can talk to them. They don't expect being spoken to in certain ways. Psychologically, it has more to do with it, than X's and O's, the ability to deal with the players and deal with men and talk and communicating with men, I think has a little more to do with it than your strategy on the football field.
Bensinger: And you've mentioned you talked to Ricky Williams recently.
Simpson: You know, I think Ricky got a raw deal. I understood that it was certainly unfortunate when he decided to leave, but he was struggling, and his heart wasn't in it, I thought it was the right move at the time. If you're not ready to play, you shouldn't go to camp, and he wasn't ready to play. I didn't tell him that, but I agreed with his opinion on that, and I thought people should have understood it. The timing was unfortunate. Football had ceased to be fun for him the previous few years. I think in three years, he went over 1,000 carries, you know. The offense didn't have much imagination. I do believe if they had made a coaching change that year, Ricky would have never left. He would have stayed around. Unfortunately, it became as much of a financial issue as anything else for him. He's back now, and I think he's really going to be terrific for them. I think the loss of weight, especially with Ron Brown, who's a hell of an athlete, their No. 1 draft choice, can take some of that fullback responsibility. Ricky can just think about breaking runs. I think he will be quicker at 215, than he was around 230, and I expect him to have a terrific year.
Bensinger: I want to kind of switch gears here. As someone who frequents the cable news stations, what are your thoughts on how networks convey a story?
Simpson: You know, I really don't like where we've gone in America, you know it's like, Walter Cronkite once said that the news division was a source of prestige for the network; then at some point in the late '80s or so, they started hiring these promotion guys away from the tabloid shows and it became a bankable portion of the network. Back in the '60s or '70s, the news division didn't make money. Once they started, there was a lot of money to be made, the whole approach to reporting the news changed. The promotions became more solicitous, you know, it was all about ... it was as crazy as it could be. We just had a councilman in Miami kill himself just this past week (laughs). This guy Arthur Teele walked in, put a gun in his mouth, and killed himself. And most people, there was a protest yesterday there, felt it was because of how the media handled his situation. Now, right or wrong, whatever he did in government, the things the media was talking about, that might or might not have been a part of his private life, to me, had no place in the media. Unfortunately, it used to be, you would get three confirmations before you went with some new fact in a story. Now as long as you have someone willing to say it, and it could be a rumor or whatever, as long as your guy didn't make it up, and this guy said it, no matter what their background might be, they run with the story. It's like, who's going to get the latest news out first, and unfortunately we've seen from everywhere back from my case to the (Natalee) Holloway situation down in Aruba, most of the time, the facts aren't right.
I love the way they do it down there, and that's driving our media crazy, because they won't talk about the facts that they have to our media. To me, the only way that you can assure that everybody's going to have a fair trial and the true facts are going to come out and if there's a jury down there, it's based on judges, that's going to come out with the facts, is you have to have all those facts come out in court, and not in the newspaper. To me, the only way you can get a fair trial in this country, you have to do what my jury did, they have to sequester the whole jury. Otherwise, they are going to fall victim to the media, and if they fall victim to the media, we don't know what is going to be the true, you know, genesis to their decision.
Bensinger: Would you recommend how it's done in Aruba, being done in the United States?
Simpson: Yeah, or England, England's the same way. I think up in Canada you can't write about certain cases. You only have certain leeway you can go. They don't talk about the facts; you can't be writing all about the facts of the case while the case is going on. To me, mother England, Canada, and those places, their legal systems. Our media, they don't care about it. They talk about fair and balanced. Oh, gee, I hear that on Fox. They don't care about fair and balanced; what sells is what drives the American media. Unfortunately, that's what it is. You know, we've talked in the past, and I'm not going over it, but Barbara Walters, some of the most respected people in this country, I gave you facts, what they did in my case that they couldn't dispute, they were just totally wrong, they went 180 percent away from the facts, yet they reported it, and when they found out the truth, they never corrected it. They never went on the air to correct it. I'm not the biggest fan of the American media.
Bensinger: I wanted to ask you about two of the recent trials, the first of which, being Scott Peterson. What were your thoughts on the outcome of the case?
Simpson: I thought that Scott Peterson, you know, what I thought if he did it or not, is immaterial. I didn't think they had the facts for him to get the death penalty. I thought he was such a disagreeable person, and talked so much that I felt that the death penalty came more out of his personality than the actual facts that they had. There's so many people who are convicted of murder and have not gotten the death penalty and certainly, I didn't think the facts were so overwhelming, that he should have gotten the death penalty. I think he was guilty probably, but I didn't think the evidence in the case warrant him getting the death penalty.
Bensinger: Do you think it's OK for attorneys to talk to the media about a case they're working on, even without a gag order?
Simpson: You know, once again I'm anti-media; I don't think any of it should be spoken to in the media. The biggest problem today is, let's look at my situation, not getting into it but, Marcia Clark, here's a person making $93,000 as a top prosecutor, and she got one big case, my case, she got a book deal for $4.3 million. That's 43 years of income to this lady, you know, and unfortunately when these high profile cases come around, all these prosecutors, that's their ticket out. That's their ticket to millions, that's their book deal. You know me, I watch Court TV. And I realize that, even those hosts and hostesses on Court TV, more women than the guys on that particular show; they all make book deals. So, their point of view of the cases that they do have to be skewed to be interesting. They can't be boring. You know, if you say that this person is innocent, the guy's found innocent, there's no book deal. So you have to be a little crazy and a little loud and a little nuts; I heard guys on the airplane who were upset that Stephen E.Smith, I think the announcer in sports ...
Bensinger: Steven A. Smith
Simpson: I enjoy Stephen A. Smith, but it shows that, if you can be a little "out there", if you can be like the guy from The Bounty Hunter, whatever his name is, (laughs), if you can be a little nuts and a little bit over the line, the odds are, that will sell. You know, that's what all of these reality shows are based on. If you're just a good, clean living person, you aren't going to get on a reality show. On a reality show, you've got a lot of crazy stuff going around and spinning around in your life. Unfortunately, that's the way it is with the news. It's all about ratings, and it's all about a sales of books and sales of magazines, and that's what drives our society. Good, bad or indifferent, that's what it is.
Bensinger: I'm going to ask you about a couple of other personalities in a minute, but wanted to ask you about the second case, the Michael Jackson trial. What were your thoughts on the outcome of that?
Simpson: I know Michael, and I never saw that side of Michael. My family has spent a lot of time at Neverland. Most of the time, Michael is not there. But, he had opened up Neverland for my family, my kids' birthdays and things. Back in the '70s, Michael, myself, Dustin Hoffman, Neil Diamond, we started a camp called Camp Good Times for kids with cancer, because one of Dustin Hoffman's nephews, I believe, couldn't stay in a camp in Malibu, because they didn't have the facility or something, to take care of him if he got sick. So we all got together and did fund raisers and stuff and started a camp called Camp Good Times in Los Angeles, that spread all over the country, Camp Good Days, or Camp something else around there. I know at Neverland, Mike had that Neverland Ranch opened up all the time for kids, and I'm sure the kid had cancer. Mike has always been involved with helping kids, especially kids with cancer, and I know that firsthand, so I just hope that -- I saw where he said that he would continue to participate, but from afar. So, I took that to mean that maybe he's not selling Neverland Ranch, and maybe he will leave the ranch there for those charitable purposes and just stay away.
Bensinger: I mean, as a friend of his and the family, did you ever talk to him about that?
Simpson: No, I talk to his brother a lot, sent him a couple of messages, and of course at Johnnie's funeral, Johnnie Cochran's funeral, we had a few words, but I was just telling him to stay strong and stay prayful and stay strong, and everything works out.
Bensinger: How's he doing?
Simpson: He seemed to be doing well. I haven't talked to him since, but his brother says he's doing well. You know, Michael was a frail guy to begin with. I think health wise, it took a toll on him, and, hopefully, he's getting well now, and we'll see him entertaining soon.
Bensinger: Something I found interesting. Ever since the verdict, Jackson has kept an exceedingly low profile, whereas after the conclusion of your case, you were in the public, at least a bit more.
Simpson: No, I wasn't in the public at all for about six or seven months. I mean, I totally disappeared. Mike's case has been, what over about three months now?
Simpson: I was at Don Ohlmeyer's house for those three months, despite the reports that they would see me here and see me there, even in my house. I was in seclusion; nobody knew where I was. Yeah, you know, it takes you awhile before, you know ... I had other cases going on. First, I had the civil case going, then I began to come out. It wasn't me coming out publicly, it was the media chasing me. I played golf, there would be helicopters shooting me playing golf. So I was trying to stay under the radar, but once the media knew or heard that I was at a restaurant, by the time I walked out, there was three or four cameras there. And that went on for a few years.
Bensinger: Was there reason for going into seclusion, or was it simply the physical impact of a trial of that magnitude?
Simpson: In the beginning, it was the physical impact and the mental impact of the trial. After awhile, it was just safe. I was once again still involved in other trials, mainly my custody case for my kids. Once that was over, my focus was just on trying to make the life around my kids as normal as possible, and keeping them out of the media, which I think for two or three years, I was very successful in doing. My kids did real well, strived real well during that period of time, then the big move to Miami. But my problem wasn't that I was doing public things, like I'm doing this week in Chicago, it was that the media would follow me. It used to bother me too, to see some of the talk show hosts. "Oh, O.J. is here, and he's trying to get in, so wait a minute." I was probably as under the radar as you could possibly can, but they are the ones showing up at the golf course. If I was at the zoo or something with my kids, next thing you know there would be helicopters, and when we walked out, there would be people with cameras, and when we went to Disney World, when they found out we were there, there were cameras and stuff. You can't stop having your kids do the things that you would have normally had them do because of that.
Bensinger: You mentioned your children and while I'm aware you previously said, it's never come up; given that June of 2004 ...
Simpson: I don't want to talk about that at all anymore.
Simpson: That we don't get into at all anymore. I decided it never works, nobody wants to believe anything you want to say, so we don't even talk about certain subjects.
Simpson: The kids are doing great right now.
Bensinger: I was going to say, I know you're an extremely proud father. You children are doing great. The only question I would have for you, how have you noticed the trials in at least some way have affected how they have been treated by the public.
Simpson: They have been fine. You know, I think my daughter hasn't been until probably in the last year. I don't think at any time has anybody said anything, kind of mean to her. I think she had an incident in the last year where someone did. But, for the most part, you know, they're teenage kids. (laughs) I feel fortunate to some degree, that they're normal teenage kids, and they for the most part, have avoided those pitfalls that most teenagers go through. But, you know, they're teenagers, and they're like any other teenagers and, fortunately my daughter's in college now; she has to focus a little more (laughs) in school, that freshman year (laughs). That Boston is a pretty fun city, evidently. But, my son is going into his senior year now, and things are looking good for him.
Bensinger: Not touching on your trial, not rehashing any of that, was the line, did you find the line between news and entertainment, blurred significantly?
Simpson: I think in general, not just in my case. I think it became obvious in my case when all of the shows sprung from the case and how they canceled it. But I think in general, there's no news. Unless you want to go to C-Span or something. To me, news is entertainment. You know, it's hair spray and makeup. (laughs) That's what news is now. It's sound bites. It's sound bites. I watch the local news now, and sometimes I wonder, they forgot, you know they forgot, it used to be who, what, where, why and when. You now get who and what. (laughs) Then you get opinions. You know, you don't get all the facts anymore. I think the problem with the news and why -- I know Congress will never do anything about it; this is not what our forefathers had in mind. The news was supposed to be the people that were the watchdogs of the system. Unfortunately, you've got beat reporters who have inside sources at the DA's office, so they're going to reflect the DA's point of view. Or they have inside sources with the police department. If they say something wrong about the police department, they're not going to get those little calls, the "leaks." Look at the government. Look at our government now; we're investigating who leaked about the CIA agent. You know, it's all about connections with the media and who's going to come out with what first. And this is based on entertaining more -- just look at the trailers and the ads leading up to the news; it's all glitz and glamour, loud and music, quick cuts (laughs), Michael Bay, it's Michael Bay doing the news, the director.
Bensinger: With as much of a circus as your criminal trial became, on the day the verdict was read, because of everything else that was going on in the media and what not, what was your feeling as to what it would be?
Simpson: Well, I told you, I was pretty confident. I knew I hadn't done it, and I had confidence in the Lord, and if the jury had convicted me of something I didn't do, nothing that I knew about this world, felt or believed in, would have mattered, so as I told you before, I thought I was the most calm guy in the room.
Bensinger: How do you feel it impacted future cases?
Simpson: I don't know. I hear people say it does, but, and I see the outcomes of cases that I agree with and some that I don't agree with; I think that it has impacted, to the point. I thought all of those contracts, all those book deals that came out of my case, more so than "Reversal of Fortune," you know way back then, that was awhile ago and that was one book. So much money was made by so many people. It gave so much notoriety of 15 minutes. You've got a guy like Kato [Kaelin], he's taken 15 minutes and he's got like an hour and a half out of this. (laughs) I think that has had a very negative effect on other trials. You know, every time I hear, as much as I would've have liked to have been in the courtroom of some of these more recent cases, I was so glad that the judges said no. You know, would not let the camera in the courtroom. Unfortunately, then you're at the mercy of the interpretation of a Nancy Grace or somebody, which is they're guilty, even before 1 percent of the evidence is in. (laughs). They're guilty, they're guilty. Then you have to deal with their interpretation of what's said in the courtroom. Still, I think the system works better in autonomy than it does out in the open, with all of these people talking about it.
Bensinger: Do you have complete faith in the U.S. justice system?
Simpson: You know, right now, I would say no. Obviously, I felt that I got kind of screwed over in some more recent things that have happened in my life. I know in my custody case, that they did, despite the fact that I had to pay over $400,000 to court-appointed people; court-appointed shrinks, court-appointed lawyers that they had for the kids; when they came out with their decision, which was unanimous, that the kids should be against me, the court system still tried to switch it. They still flushed it back into the court, because they didn't agree with the people that they assigned (laughs); they assigned them of course ... I had to pay them. When you talk about a total of five different shrinks, well, respected lawyer, female lawyer, I might add, all whites, all very expensive, all appointed by the court. Why would they not listen to them, when they all unanimously, separate from one another, come to the same conclusion. To me, why did you bring them in and why do you have me paying them, if you are not going to listen to what they have to say.
Bensinger: I know you just mentioned this ... cameras in the courtroom, keep people in check or become detrimental to the case?
Simpson: Oh, detrimental. They start playing to the camera. Look at my trial. Look at Marcia Clark. She had a whole redo. You know these redo shows they do on TV (laughs). When have you ever heard of anybody in the court, in the middle of a very important court case, take the time to have a complete physical, visual redo of who they are and what they look like. That's the problem. People start playing to the camera, and then it becomes a case of not losing and not what are the facts.
Bensinger: What are your views on lie-detector tests?
Simpson: Again, I think it's become pretty accepted by everybody. I saw a show the other day say that they're not reliable, when they were talking about Aruba, in this case. They don't believe in them. They won't even let you take them and most cases don't. We've seen people convicted who pass lie-detector tests. I always look at the nanny and that sits the tone for me. The nanny trial up in Boston, I think it was. She took one for the DA, one for the police, one for her lawyer. She passed all of them. It didn't matter (laughs), they still prosecuted her. If you pass you never hear them. Sometimes if you pass by a little bit, they call it inclusive (laughs). So, I don't know many lawyers who would really recommend them that their clients do it. I certainly wouldn't recommend that they're clients do it. As a matter of fact, I volunteered to do it. But I wanted the facts of it to be put in court, if there was a prosecution against me. But Marcia Clark then wouldn't agree to that. So they wanted their cake and they wanted to eat it, too. They wanted to get it, then if I didn't pass, they would use it against me in the public, but if I passed it, they didn't want it in court, and I said either way, we can have it in the court case, and they didn't agree.
Bensinger: And she even wrote in your book, you took one, and I imagine that's false?
Simpson: That was absolutely false. No.
Bensinger: How about your views on the death penalty?
Simpson: I've been anti-death penalty most of my life. I'm revisiting that now, because of these child molestation cases. I'm a person that, I don't believe that a person who molests children can be cured. I don't think there's any cure for it. And I think it has been beginning to look that way. The problem is, you know, you get a guy that has a fight with his girlfriend and they have sex, and she say, he did this; he'll get that title of sexual predator; they're splitting up and "he raped me" (laughs), you know what I'm saying. You really have to separate that sexual predator; I guess he wouldn't be considered a predator, but sexual person has to register as a sex offender, because a girlfriend said he forced her to have sex once. You never know. Opposed to a person who actually goes out and actually molests minors. Those people, I don't think there's much hope for them, and I really don't relish paying tax dollars to support them (laughs). So I guess, maybe I'm beginning to lean toward the death penalty, in those rare cases.
Bensinger: Celebrities, is it possible for them to have fair trials?
Simpson: Yeah. I think a true celebrity, or a celebrity by money, rich people; the way our system has gotten is, they're the only ones who can afford to have a fair trial. You cannot tell me, that the average guy who grew up where I grew up, had fair trials. Look at the cases in L.A., where they had to let hundreds of guys out of jail who were convicted of felonies; half of them dealt, because they couldn't compete with the lying police, which we now know were lying. The big Rampart situation; but all over the country, we see more and more of that, where the police, somebody alleged, they confessed to this and that, and these guys just don't have the finances to be able to afford the representations. My trial, you would've heard all the rumored stuff that never showed up in my case, if I didn't, couldn't afford to have the detectives to go out; we would have been reading, so and so said this. I said that's not true. They would go out and interview them, and find out, that's not what they told the police. Now if I was just guy, with no funds, my lawyer would've said, look they've got this, they've got this guy saying that, and despite my denials, they don't have the time or the energy to go out and follow up and find out if this is true or is this really what this guy said, and consequently they'll deal to a lesser charge, because they say you're going to lose. You're going to get 10 years, do a deal and you're out in three. Well, unfortunately, there's too much of that going on. L.A. has proven, that probably more than any other place in the country, you've got a lot of that going on. I saw a show on "20/20" or something, about a year ago, and there were about four people who confessed to the same crime. And then they caught the real guy who did it. And they were saying, why would a person confess to a crime they didn't do. When they were interviewing the three people who were suing the police department for it, you see the tactics that were used against them, and they just realized, that by confessing, you know that these guys have all of the facts against me, even though I didn't do it. Well, if I confess, I'm going to get three years; if I don't confess, I'm going to get 20 years. (laughs) I think you need money to get justice in this country.
Bensinger: You mentioned Clark's book. Marcia Clark said in her book, and I quote her, "No other criminal defendant has entered the dock so perfectly insulated by personal wealth and public sympathy." How would you respond to that?
Simpson: That is not true. Obviously, F. Lee Bailey, Roy Black, these guys all became famous long before I came around, and they were defending very wealthy people. When I was a kid growing up, if you're black, odds are you're going to jail. (laughs) If you were a wealthy white, the odds are you weren't going to jail. And nobody complained. The system was all right. You didn't have all of these guys on TV saying the system should be changed. In recent years, unfortunately, entertainers and a lot of the entertainer have become minorities. They don't say that. I could not spend half the money they spend. I don't care what they put on the docket, they had 43 lawyers working on my case, they had so many other cops there, Interpol, they had the FBI. There's no way I could have spent the money that they spent trying to convict me. And there's no way, Michael Jackson, with all of the money he has, there's no way; well, that city didn't have a whole lot of money. That was more of an unusual situation. Still, when you look at the cost of all those police officers going to his house, searching his house; you know, if you try to do that as a private citizen, it would cost three or four times as much as it would cost the city. But there's no way I spent more money than L.A. spent on my prosecution.
Bensinger: Even that said, and this would be the polar opposite to a previous question. Do celebrities get special treatment, or can they simply afford high-priced attorneys?
Simpson: I think, unfortunately for a celebrity, it's all in the open. The average guy can go to court, have his case; if he wins, he goes home and nobody knows he went to court. It will impact a celebrity's life from the moment they're charged. You know, things come out about their lives, I find more non-true than truths about their lives that have nothing to do with the trial. You know, no, I don't think a celebrity gets any special treatment. Any special treatment a celebrity gets, has more to do with the money that they have to spend. It doesn't have to do with the fact they're celebrities.
Bensinger: Does this general infatuation, the public and media still has with you, come as surprising? I mean, you made national headlines for being ordered to pay DirecTV ... national headlines!
Simpson: (laughs) It amazes me. It does amaze me. The non-incidences in my life, become major incidences. This is something that was three years ago. Somebody had given me two cards. They weren't my cards. Who cares? Who do you know, that don't have these things. Yet I'm watching TV, and it's a big deal, he's paying $25,000. There's a saying that one of my coaches used to say, "What's five pounds on an elephant's (butt)?" I owe, I don't know how much I owe, at this point, probably close to $50 million. So when I pay that $50 million, you can have the $25,000.
Bensinger: Do you think there will ever come a point in time when you have to pay more of the money that was awarded?
Simpson: Maybe, but obviously it won't be by any effort of mine. (laughs) I follow the law, and if that means avoiding doing certain things in my life, I will avoid doing it. As I said, I didn't do the crime; I'm not going to pay 'em a dime, and that's how I feel about it.
Bensinger: I'd like to name a couple of people and organizations and get your thoughts on them. She's come up a couple of times already, the first one would be Marcia Clark.
Simpson: You know, to be honest, I don't even give Marcia Clark a thought. I was surprised to see her the other day. She looks like a totally different person. (laughs) This lady, I know what she did with that $4 million. (laughs) It's all in her face. (laughs laughs)
Bensinger: How about Mark Fuhrman?
Simpson: Mark Fuhrman amazes me. I saw him on TV. I saw Catherine Crier on TV the other day, having him as an expert commentator. This guy is a guy who pleads the Fifth in a murder trial. He's a liar. He has been found to be a liar long before my case, the psychologist who worked for the L.A. Police Department, called the man a liar, long before my case. Marcia Clark, (Detective Phillip) Vannatter, (Detective Tom) Lange -- all of these guys have been on national TV shows, saying what a scum liar this man is, and he's still put on these shows to give his opinions about things. For a black man, if the black people are looking at this, this all-American-looking white guy, there's not a black man living who could do that. Talentless person. You could talk about Michael Jackson, at least some of these guys got talent. (laughs) Why would this guy's opinion mean anything to anybody at this point. But hey, he's getting over, God bless him.
Bensinger: What was it like for you, and I know you've touched on this briefly, when you witnessed many involved with your case, immediately attempting to profit, following it's conclusion.
Simpson: You know, to be honest, I could care less. They make money on it, God bless them, good for them. Do they deserve it? No. It bothered me, probably more of all of them, to see a Faye Resnick or Denise Brown make money, because it was just based on flat-out lies and pimping at the death of Nicole. The other people, hey, I don't know them. I may not agree with their tactics and what they did, but I never begrudge anybody for making money any way they can.
Bensinger: Do you think that's a testament to their character though?
Simpson: Yeah, but Marcia would be real big on attacking so many of our witnesses, "All you want to do is make money. You're going to try to do a book deal." Throughout my trial, you must have read that five or six times and who was the very first book deal made, Marcia Clark. It kind of says something. But I don't hold it against them. Good for them. I'm happy for them. Just leave me alone. (laughs)
Bensinger: I wanted to ask you about one more person, the last of which, being the late Johnnie Cochran.
Simpson: Terrific guy. I think Johnnie, if you were at his funeral, it was amazing the testimony that was presented at his funeral. Every case he got involved in after my case, it allowed him to go and back some change, change in the law. You know laws changed because of Johnnie Cochran's commitment . He loved the law. He loved the law. There's not a person on this planet who's in trouble in any shape or form, would not have wanted Johnnie to represent them, not just as a lawyer, but as a person. He was a very religious person. His whole basis of his life was rooted in his faith, in his God, and he loved the law. He loved doing it. A lot of these people can't wait to get out. They get a book deal and they're out. Look at my trial, and virtually everybody on the defense team, they made a book deal and got millions and were no longer involved with the law. You know, Johnnie virtually until the day that he died, was involved in the law. Now, even after he died, I see him on commercials (laughs), for law firms all over the country, in the spirit of Johnnie Cochran. He loved what he was doing, and he will be missed. He certainly is missed by me.
Bensinger: What do you think made him so successful?
Simpson: Once again, the fact that he loved what he was doing. I don't think you can be great in anything, unless you love what you're doing. Ricky Williams did the right thing -- he walked away when his heart wasn't in playing. Let's hope he's got that feeling back again. But you can't be great in anything, unless you love doing it. You know, and Johnnie loved doing it. Obviously, you've got to be smart, I mean, you've got to have the basic skills that it takes. But you've got to have a passion for what you're doing, and Johnnie had that passion.
Bensinger: What was your relationship like with him, following the trial?
Simpson: Pretty much, what it was before the trial. You know, we talked on occasion. He called me a few times. He saw me do an interview with Katie Couric and then his wife. This was after he knew he was sick. He called me and said, "You did a great job." We talked about it, and we didn't really talk about his illness. I knew he was very ill. And we attended a couple of events together, you know. That was pretty much our relationship before the trial. I'd see him on occasion, and we would talk on occasion and then the social environment, we ran into each other on occasion.
Bensinger: Now you were at Cochran's funeral. When Rev. Al Sharpton spoke ...
Bensinger: He said, and I quote him, "With all due respect to you, Brother Simpson, we didn't clap when the acquittal of Simpson came for O.J., we were clapping for Johnnie." And he was serious when he said that. And from the first-hand accounts I've received, the other guests, generally African-American, were in agreement. How did that make you feel?
Simpson: First of all, it was Johnnie's funeral. And if that's how he saw it, that's how he saw it. Whatever they were clapping for, good. (laugh) That's Al Sharpton, and it was Johnnie's memorial service.
Bensinger: Does that mean, does it irritate you, when he uses the memorial service to make a statement like that?
Simpson: No. The memorial was for Johnnie. So anything that reflected on Johnnie positively, I was all for it.
Bensinger: That was a little earlier this year. What's your life like now? What's an average day like for you?
Simpson: I don't have to drive my son to school, so, I tend to start my day on the golf course. Things have not changed so much in the last seven years. Except my daughter has gone to college, and my son drives, so it frees me up to travel a little more. As you see, I'm here in Chicago, doing something I haven't done in years. I tend to accept more invitations. I've always gotten invitations to attend events and to; last week I was in Washington D.C. The Congressional Black Caucus invited me up for a charitable event and golf tournament, and it was great being in D.C. with all of the Congressmen and stuff, you know. These are invitations that I haven't accepted for years. And now I accept them.
Bensinger: Are you content with your lifestyle, or do you have the desire to do more?
Simpson: You always have the desire to do more. I mean, I'm comfortable in what I'm doing. Obviously, I want to do a little more, because I'm accepting these invites for various things, you know. Most of them are more social, but some of them are even business opportunities, but when you have a $50 million judgment here and a $25,000 judgment over here (laughs), you've got to temper what you do in the business world. I'm a firm believer; I would rather have less in my life, than to pay somebody something that they don't deserve. So, I'll take less, just not to pay. You know, a lot of people say, well why don't you just make a deal with them that you will give them a percentage of what you're earnings are going to be. Well, no, I'm not giving them nothing that they don't deserve. I will not work.
Bensinger: Any interest in re-entering the television industry.
Simpson: You know, if the situation presents itself, I've had a couple of overtures. For me, it would probably be better, if I do it through the Internet. With the Internet, I've actually talked to some people about that, because then, I don't have to talk to so many people's opinions. I've had shows that they've wanted me to come to. They knew it would be overwhelmingly successful, but they get ten phone calls from people bitching about it, and the average person doesn't want to bring this heat into their lives, and I certainly don't want to bring it into their lives, so we've haven't done them. When we get involved in the Internet, we could care less. As a matter of fact, log on and give us your complaint. (phone ringing). I'm sorry, I have to keep my phone available. I'm sorry, I'll call you back in a minute, sweetheart, I'm doing an interview. Stay where you are, I'm doing an interview, I'll call you right back. My daughter has just gotten here on her way from Jamaica to Miami, believe it or not. It had something to do with United Air Lines.
Bensinger: You mentioned this Internet venture. Would this be a reality show
Simpson: We'll see. Can you veer the camera over here? Ask this person right here, She's the host ... (points to woman standing at his side)
Bensinger: How about ever working on trial coverage?
Simpson: I would love to do that. That's something I've felt from Robert Blake, to Peterson, to Michael, I felt that I could've given an insight. I used to hear some of the experts (say) "And well, he's thinking this." And I said, they don't have a clue what's going on these guy's minds in the middle of a trial and stuff, you can see the evidence, because I've had so many trials, it seems, that I can understand what the defense is trying to do, and to hear an expert, give a totally different spin on it. You know, that's not the purpose of them bringing this evidence in. And, invariably, I'm always right. Let's see where it goes. Yeah, that is something I would like to do. Like golf, I play golf because I love golf. That is something I could have a real passion for.
Bensinger: Is that something you could see yourself trying to ...
Simpson: Maybe we'll do it on the Internet, who knows? (laughs) As I said, I have certain insulation, autonomy that I wouldn't have to deal with, sponsors here and sponsors there, you know. I always said, what I found curious in my case is that, the people who are against me are very loud and boisterous. What bothers me is that they try to keep the people who are for me away. Why? You stated your opinion. Move over and let them show how they feel. And invariably, I see it on the talk show, where the host will chomp on someone who is defending me; how they double-team them and triple-team them. (laughs) You know what I mean. On the shows that have polls; it amazes me, the Court TV's polls, MSNBC polls, you have a skewed audience on those polls. They may be on both sides of the political spectrum, but as far as the social spectrum, you really have a pigeon-holed audience on those shows, and I've always said, when it comes to cases like Michael Jackson or any of these types cases, they in no way reflect what the general public is thinking. In no way. Only a certain segment of the public.
Bensinger: Two final questions for you. First, is there anything that you've never been asked or had the opportunity to share your thoughts on concerning your life that you'd like to?
Simpson: NO! To me it would come down to straightening up misconceptions about my life, but then we could go on and on about my that.
Bensinger: Finally, regardless how accomplished the football player was, it's not plausible, for many people, in their mind, to separate that from O.J. Simpson, the murderer.
Simpson: No. There's no O.J. Simpson the murder. That person doesn't exist.
Bensinger: No, I'm saying in their mind.
Simpson: In their mind, they're misguided. What do you do when you see a crazy person on the street, you just walk right by them, and ignore them. So that's how I treat people who feel that way. I just walk right on by, and have a good day, and then I ignore them.
Bensinger: Does you're legacy concern you, whether it be for your sake, or that of you family or acquaintances.
Simpson: Legacy is going to be in the mind of the individuals. I don't think there's a general legacy, of of of anyone. I could be a fan of Mao Tse Tung , which I am, not for the politics, just what he did for his people, and how he took his country, but there are people who see him as Communist Anti-Christ, you know. All you can do is, hopefully, you've affected people who've met you and been in your presence or watched you perform in a positive way, and I'm content that there's enough of those out there, to make my life feel as if it has been successful.
Bensinger: Thank you very much
Simpson: Thank you, Graham. It's always a pleasure.
ESPN.com | Print | Send to a Friend