It’s the day we all knew was coming, though may not have been paying close attention to the calendar. While you were sleeping, O.J. Simpson was released from a Nevada prison.
When the disgraced football star was granted parole in July, the understanding was that he would be released in October, presumably on Monday, Oct. 2. But in a Facebook post, the Nevada Department of Corrections said that Simpson was released shortly after midnight local time “to ensure public safety and reduce the potential for incident.”
The Nevada Department of Corrections also posted a rather nondescript video of Simpson leaving the corrections facility:
Simpson, 70, was serving a 33-year prison sentence, nine of which had to be served without the possibility of parole. He was incarcerated for his role in planning a 2007 armed robbery in which he attempted to seize back sports memorabilia that he claims was taken from his home in 1995. The formal charges were conspiracy to commit a crime, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary in possession of a deadly weapon, two counts of first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weaon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
Despite all of those charges, nine years was considered a long sentence for the crime that occurred and the general belief was that Nevada judge Jackie Glass was seeking retribution for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman for which he was acquitted back in 1995.
Of course, that murder trial received a whole new wave of exposure and scrutiny with the FX miniseries American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson and the Academy Award-winning ESPN documentary, O.J.: Made in America. A generation of people who might not have understood why Simpson was such a controversial and notorious figure received a whole lot of information on the subject.
So what happens with O.J. now? Does he fade into obscurity, content to live out the rest of his life in private infamy? If there was any thought that he could cash in on his renewed high profile with books and TV appearances, such options are highly unlikely to develop.
Simpson won’t return to sports media, where he maintained fame after his playing days were over as an analyst and personality for ABC and NBC. Variety reported after he was granted parole that producers had approached Simpson about a possible reality TV series, but many publicists and executives believe that no network or cable channel would even consider such a program.
Even if Simpson had an opportunity for gainful employment, he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the Brown and Goldman families in a civil suit. But Simpson has never come close to paying that total (Goldman’s sister said he’s paid less than one percent of what he owes). The Goldman family claims that with interests and the cost of court proceedings, the total is closer to $60 million now.
“While we respect the Nevada Parole Board’s decision to release Simpson, it’s still difficult for us knowing he will be a free man again,” the Goldmans said. “We will continue pursuing the now $60 million judgment awarded to our family after the [civil trial] jury found that Simpson willfully and wrongfully caused the deaths of Ron and Nicole, as well as remain dedicated in our commitment to domestic violence awareness, victim advocacy and judicial reform.”
According to TIME, Simpson’s primary source of income will likely be the pensions he earned from the NFL and Screen Actors Guild. Depending on which source you prefer to believe, that could provide $10,000 to $25,ooo per month. (He reportedly may have invested in a private pension as well.) Additionally, Simpson will now be able to collect Social Security at his age, which could provide another $3,500 a month. Unfortunately for the Brown and Goldman families, they won’t be able to touch any of the money.
One interesting anecdote from a CNN feature on Simpson written in July highlighted his talent for beating his fellow inmates in fantasy football week after week.
He was constantly winning money in fantasy football games due to his knowledge of the National Football League and players’ skills, Felix said. “One time when he wasn’t looking, I got info off of his football sheets. He made me some money,” he recalled, laughing.
“You can visit him at Lovelock from Friday to Sunday,” Scotto said. “I knew to never even bother to try to visit with him on a Sunday during football season because he was watching the games.”
“We used to send him fantasy football stuff in there,” Norman Pardo, Simpson’s former manager who has stayed in touch with him via telephone. “He was melancholy and we would send him 20 or 30 (fantasy football) envelopes to keep his mind occupied.”
OK, Simpson probably wasn’t winning all that much money in fantasy football. But would he be allowed to continue playing with his former fellow inmates? Or does he have a new set of patsies to take money from among his circle of friends and acquaintances now that he’s a free man? O.J. will surely have to settle for that, since no one will give him a fantasy football outlet on TV or online.