O.J. Simpson will get his freedom soon, but then what?
LOVELOCK, Nev. — When O.J. Simpson gets out of prison in October for his first taste of freedom in nine years, he will have the mementos he was convicted of stealing in a Las Vegas heist, his guaranteed NFL pension and, with any luck, certain life skills he says he acquired behind bars.
Beyond that, the 70-year-old sports legend faces an uncertain future.
“The legitimate mainstream business opportunities for Juice in the megabuck world of professional sports are slim and none,” said John Vrooman, an economics professor and sports industry expert at Vanderbilt University.
“If Americans love anyone more than a superhero, it is a fallen hero making a comeback against the odds,” he said a day after Simpson was granted parole. But Vrooman said the odds against the one-time murder defendant and convicted armed robber “now seem insurmountable.”
Others think he will find a way to make ends meet, perhaps by signing autographs and making personal appearances.
“The primary asset this guy has is name and brand recognition. … I believe Mr. Simpson believes he can make a bunch of money by returning to the memorabilia circuit,” said David Cook, collections attorney for the parents of Ronald Goldman.
Goldman was stabbed to death along with Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in Los Angeles in 1994, a crime O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the following year.
He was found liable in civil court in 1997 for the killings and was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the victims’ families. The verdict is still hanging over him, and the Goldmans’ lawyer has been trying for years to seize some of Simpson’s assets.
After getting released, Simpson plans to move to Florida, a state with a strong law that would shield his home and everything in it from seizure to satisfy the verdict. But Tom Scotto, one of Simpson’s closest friends, said Simpson has no plans to buy a house.