Please O.J., don’t bother drop­ping by USC

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DES BIELER

Be­ing widely con­sid­ered a dou­ble-mur­derer didn’t pre­vent O. J. Simp­son from at­tend­ing a 2002 prac­tice for the foot­ball team at South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, the school for which he won a 1968 Heis­man Tro­phy.

But now that Simp­son is soon to be a free man again, with his re­lease from a Ne­vada prison set for Oc­to­ber, he won’t be wel­comed back by the Tro­jans.

That’s ac­cord­ing to USC coach Clay Hel­ton, who told re­porters (via ESPN), “Right now with USC, what the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the ath­letic de­part­ment have said is, no, O. J. will not be a part of our func­tions. That’s been the state­ment.”

Hel­ton had been asked if Simp­son might be in­vited back to watch the Tro­jans work out, much as had hap­pened 15 years ago, which was seven years af­ter he was ac­quit­ted of killing his wife and a friend of hers in a trial that gripped the na­tion. In that in­stance, then-coach Pete Car­roll was happy to have the for­mer USC star around.

“It was good to have him out here,” Car­roll said in Davie, Fla., where Simp­son, then a Mi­ami res­i­dent, watched the Tro­jans pre­pare to take on Iowa in the Orange Bowl.

“At ’SC, our guys hold a Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner in the high­est re­gard. For them to get a chance to see him and visit with him was very spe­cial for them.”

“I don’t think I could ever feel dis­con­nected from SC, I re­ally don’t,” Simp­son said then, while, ac­cord­ing to the Times, shak­ing hands, sign­ing au­to­graphs and pos­ing for pic­tures with on­look­ers. Simp­son had re­port­edly not at­tended a Tro­jans prac­tice since the 1980s, and when asked about the last time he had any di­rect in­volve­ment with the pro­gram, he said, “It’s been a while ... prob­a­bly since my or­deal.”

This month, a Ne­vada pa­role board ruled that Simp­son would be re­leased from prison on or af­ter Oct. 1.

But, rather than the em­brace he re­ceived from Car­roll, it sounds like the for­mer Heis­man win­ner should now ex­pect some­thing more like a stiff-arm from USC.


O.J. Simp­son talks to USC QB Car­son Palmer on Dec. 28, 2002.

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