Simpson, O. J. (Orenthal James Simpson), 1947–, American football player, b. San Francisco. As a running back for the Univ. of Southern California, he won the Heisman Trophy as the best college player of 1968. The "Juice" played with the Buffalo Bills (1969–77) and San Francisco 49ers (1978–79) and rushed for 11,236 yards during his professional career. Simpson set season records (now broken) for most yards gained (2,003; 1973) and most touchdowns (23; 1975). He later became a sportscaster and actor.
In 1994 he was charged with the brutal murder of his ex-wife and her friend, but he was acquitted in 1995 after a media-saturated trial that highlighted racial tensions and divisions in American society. In 1997 a civil jury levied a huge wrongful-death award against him in a suit brought by the victims' families. Simpson was again the center of controversy in 2006 when it was revealed that a book by him, entitled If I Did It, which its publisher, Judith Regan, said she considered his confession, was to be published, and a television interview timed to coincide with the book's publication was to be aired. Public outcry led Rupert Murdoch, whose companies were to publish the book and broadcast the interview, to order the cancellation of both. In 2007 Simpson was charged with several felonies in connection with his participation in an armed robbery in a Las Vegas involving sports memorabilia that he contended had been stolen from him; he was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison in 2008.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.