Few Americans, living or dead, carry the notoriety of Orenthal James Simpson. And few celebrities have ever divided the public so decisively. How one views O.J. Simpson—and the verdict in his 1995 criminal trial for double murder—has become a litmus test for all matters of race, injustice, police power and celebrity in the U.S. In a tale filled with strange twists and turns, this may be the strangest: The former All-Pro running back and B-list actor stands as one of the most intriguing—and most despised—figures of the late 20th century.
Forget Scott Peterson and Robert Blake. No accused murderer, and no crime, has captivated the nation quite like the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman. From the first news reports of the near decapitation and multiple stabbings to the bizarre Ford Bronco chase broadcast live on TV to the subsequent trial of the century, which found Simpson not guilty, America was riveted. Some considered the verdict an appalling miscarriage of justice; others saw it as vindication for a man who had been framed by a racist police force. Next year is the 10th anniversary of the 1994 murders, and the controversy has yet to diminish.
Despite his acquittal in the criminal trial, Simpson was found responsible for the murders in a 1997 civil suit brought by the victims’ families, who were awarded $33.5 million in damages. Nicole’s parents also sued Simpson for custody of their grandchildren Sydney and Justin.
After the court awarded him custody of his own children, Simpson moved his family from Los Angeles to southern Florida, but controversy dogged him there, too. In December 2000 he was charged with battery related to an alleged road-rage incident (he was acquitted). Later that year, federal agents searched his home for ecstasy and other drugs. No charges were filed. Several reports allege violent incidents involving Simpson and his current girlfriend, Christie Prody. Earlier this year, Sydney, who was 17, called 911 while fighting with her father. Child protective services investigated, but once again, no charges were filed. In addition to appearing in police blotters, Simpson is constantly in the tabloids. Recent reports claim that he received millions of dollars to star in a porno video and that buckets of golf balls were being dropped on his home at night, allegedly by police who were annoyed by being called so often.
Despite owing millions of dollars in legal fees, Simpson lives comfortably, albeit without the lavish perks of his former life. His primary income is his NFL pension, which, according to published accounts, totals $300,000 a year. Simpson may be a perpetual subject of the press, which reports on his comings and goings from courthouses, restaurants and golf courses, but since his move to Florida he has rarely granted interviews. Recently, Simpson agreed to sit down for his most in-depth and candid interview since the murder trial. To face off with him, Playboy sent Contributing Editor David Sheff to Miami. Simpson was accompanied throughout the interview, as well as in a subsequent follow-up session, by Yale Galanter, his attorney.
Playboy: Nearly a decade after the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, do you still maintain your innocence?
Simpson: I do. I had nothing to do with it. I am totally innocent.
Playboy: And yet you remain one of the most hated men in America, someone most people think got away with murder.
Simpson: Maybe according to the media, but that’s not my experience. Most people are supportive.
Playboy: Most people we talk to are still angry about your acquittal.
Simpson: Early on, a few times somebody would get up and leave a restaurant when I sat down, though not much. Somebody broke the antenna on my car, someone spit on my car. I read stories about how I was kicked out of all these places or they wouldn’t serve me, but it’s bullshit. The truth is, I have trouble paying for my meals when I go out. People are always picking up the tab. Maybe somewhere people are saying other things, but I don’t hear about it, except on television.
Playboy: Are you resentful that your acquittal wasn’t enough to exonerate you in the minds of most Americans?
Simpson: If the trial hadn’t been on TV, most people would feel differently. If this had happened in Canada, where they don’t let the media go on and on during a trial, it would be different. I was tried by the media before I was tried in court. Look at Scott Peterson. Ask anyone in America about him. They’ll say the guy is guilty. But [at the time of this interview] we haven’t heard one shred of evidence.
Playboy: But Americans heard evidence in your case.
Simpson: They watched the media coverage. Most people don’t know what was a rumor, what was true. There’s a lot of money to be made by continuing the O.J. story. The other day I was trying on a pair of golf gloves, and the next day it’s in the papers. The guy in the store sold the story. Negative stories sell. It’s just like the reactions from people on the street. They have never been as bad as the media have made them out to be. The media want me to be this pariah, and I’m not.
Playboy: That depends on who you talk to.
Simpson: No matter how they approach me, most people’s reactions come down to this: “You went to court, and the jury says you didn’t do it.” Many people say, “You got screwed.” Some say, “We don’t know if you did it or not, but please take care of those kids.”
Playboy: Though you were acquitted in the criminal trial, you were held responsible for the murders in the civil trial.
Simpson: The civil trial was just a money thing. I don’t think anybody can put the two in the same category. The chairman of a tobacco company gets sued because he allegedly knew that his company was killing people. But I’m willing to bet he’s still in the same country clubs, he goes to the same restaurants. He paid his fine, and that’s that. That’s the way civil trials generally work. In my life, the important trial was the criminal trial. I was convicted by the media, not by the jury. The media blame everyone for the fact that I was found not guilty. They blame Judge Lance Ito, even though he consistently ruled for the prosecution. They blame Marcia Clark, the district attorney. They blame everything except the fact that I was innocent.
Playboy: But most people don’t believe in your innocence.
Simpson: The jury did. They came back with their decision quickly. If there was any reasonable doubt, they would not have come back so quickly. The majority felt I was jobbed. Unfortunately, the media didn’t let that be the story. The show went on. Many people blame jury nullification, the fact that the jury was loaded with blacks. That’s the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever heard. Go into the jury room in almost any major city. The vast majority of jurors, no matter how many blacks live in the city, are black. I’ve seen the jurors talk about my case. The older Caucasian lady said something like, “Look, when you see nothing there one day, and then three weeks later it’s there—”
Playboy: You’re referring to the charge that the police planted evidence.
Simpson: Yes, and even people who believe I’m guilty believe that the police planted evidence. Early in my trial, after [LAPD detectives] Philip Vannatter, Tom Lange and Mark Fuhrman testified, one of the deputies in the jail told me, “I don’t know if you did it or not, but those guys are liars and the jury knows they’re lying. You’re going home.” When the jury knows that the cops are lying, they never convict.
Playboy: Were you as confident?
Simpson: I was, because of my faith. From the start, I thought they were going to let me out of jail any day. I got a little disappointed as time went on, because I never thought it would go that far. I didn’t understand the impact of the media, though. In a high-profile case, if you ask the public at the beginning of a trial and again after the verdict if they think someone is guilty, there’s not much difference.
Playboy: Are there parallels between your case and the Scott Peterson case?
Simpson: I heard that Scott Peterson had $10,000 on him when he was arrested. Well, they said that I had $10,000 when I was arrested, but I had $3 or something. You never hear about it when it proves untrue. The first report on CNN about the Peterson case said that he had changed his look and was 30 miles from the Mexican border. It gave the impression that they caught him fleeing the country. They didn’t say that’s where he lives. They didn’t say that he may have changed his looks so he could go out without everybody recognizing him—so he could go out on the golf course. They created the impression that he was fleeing, so he’s guilty. I’m not saying that he isn’t, but I don’t pretend to know. I will say that at least 50 percent of my new friends thought I was guilty before they met me. They’ve changed their minds now that they’ve hung out with me, met my friends and met Nicole’s real friends—not the Faye Resnicks and the wannabes, those party people the media focused on. Now, when they see the tabloid stories about me, they get madder than I do. I have to calm them down. Someone puts out that I did a porno movie. It starts in some tabloid, then the mainstream media pick it up.
Yale Galanter: The Globe or The National Enquirer came out with a headline: “O.J. Simpson Gets Paid $10 Million to Do Porno Film.” I can assure you that if anybody offered O.J. Simpson $10 million to be in front of a camera, with or without clothes on, we would take the money.
Simpson: I would have done it in the middle of Bayshore Boulevard. Before the article came out, the person who tried to set me up admitted the truth, but the paper still wrote the story as if it were a fact.
Playboy: Who tried to set you up?
Simpson: Some guy. He tried to set me up with these girls: “Come in the room. Have a drink.” They had cameras, thinking they were going to catch me doing someone. I guess the guy sort of felt guilty. He warned me—not that I was going to do anything anyway. Another time, in Las Vegas, I went to a room with a guy who had half a million dollars and these two girls who were in the porn business. He said, “After sex, we’ll put a million and a half dollars wherever you want.” I wasn’t interested, though I might have been with one of the girls. All my friends thought I was crazy. They would have gone for it. I’m a bachelor—I can do what I want. But my mother was still alive at the time. I have two young children. I have turned down millions of dollars. That’s the truth, but no one is interested in that story.
Playboy: How does the media scrutiny affect your day-to-day life?
Simpson: I am calcified by it all.
Playboy: Does it make you angry?
Simpson: It’s one thing to target me, but don’t try to put these inferences on my kids. I think the average person would agree that my kids have gone through a lot. It’s not too much for me to ask that they be left alone. They are terrific kids. The president’s daughters have gotten into trouble. Governor Jeb Bush’s daughters have had troubles. Nobody calls President Bush or Governor Bush bad parents. If my son and daughter had committed any of those indiscretions, the reaction would be, “Oh, those poor kids. What would you expect?” Nobody wants to give me credit that, as a single parent, I’ve done something right, because I have two exceptionally well-adjusted kids.
Playboy: Yet Sydney recently called 911, reportedly after a fight with you.
Simpson: I keep asking her why she called. She says, “Well, I just wanted to ask them a question,” and she did: “Is it abuse if he tells me I’m a pain in the ass?” It wasn’t even an argument. She was on the wrong side of something with her brother, and I told her to look in the mirror. She’s kind of driving everybody crazy around here. It’s just a teenage-daughter thing. The media make it a hundred times more than that. Nobody was in danger, nobody was threatened, and the police let it go. It was a nonincident.
Playboy: How many teenagers call 911 just because they were reprimanded?
Simpson: Evidently it happens quite often. When the police came, they knew immediately what it was, and yet it became a media event because someone sold the story. I have learned that you can’t believe what you read or hear. I don’t know if Robert Blake or Scott Peterson is guilty. I have my opinion, but I would never say it publicly. Until these guys are proven guilty, they are innocent.
Playboy: Which of your children had the hardest time losing their mother and then surviving the trial and custody battle?
Simpson: My daughter had more time with her mother. She was just a teenage girl. My son, Justin, is probably more easygoing. Sydney’s a little more serious. From day one she has been more protective of me. She’s heard people, relatives or otherwise, say things about me, and it took her a while to forgive them. Anytime she perceives that somebody has slighted me, she tenses.
Playboy: It was recently reported that someone, possibly the police, has been pelting your house with buckets of golf balls, dropping them from a helicopter.
Simpson: Ridiculous. It’s not true.
Playboy: Did you have an altercation on a Florida golf course with a man who called you a killer?
Simpson: That’s one of the few times I did lose my temper. Fortunately, he was a lot bigger than me, so it wasn’t like I was picking on somebody. First he was like, “Hey, Juice.” Then, “There are snipers out there. I hope they don’t shoot.” Then he said something like “You’re a fucking asshole.” I dropped my bag and went over. I knew I couldn’t hit the guy, but I got right up on him. I realized he was a big nothing because he let me get right up on him. If anything happened, I was going to get a couple quick shots in. If he withstood that, I was going to get my ass kicked. I was so mad I was yelling, spraying saliva all over him, making sure I was extra juicy. Finally, he apologized. He said, “I thought it was strange you didn’t do nothing when I called you a murderer but you did when I called you an asshole.” I said, “A lot of people think I’m a murderer. That’s something I’ve got to live with. But if you call anybody an asshole, you’ve got to be prepared to get bloody.”
Playboy: How does the attention you get now compare with the attention you received as an athlete and an actor?
Simpson: It’s a little more caring. It’s more about me. One fan—someone who thought I got a raw deal—made this very plush condo available only to me. He just felt that I needed a place to have on weekends, when my kids aren’t around. He didn’t ask me for anything.
Playboy: Is it true that your pension is $300,000 a year?
Simpson: Whatever it is—and you’re not too far off—no more than $20,000 is my NFL pension. All the rest is my personal pension. That’s another thing they like to dog me on. Give me some credit. I did prepare for that rainy day, though I did not expect a monsoon.
Playboy: You owe $33.5 million in the civil suit. How much have you paid?
Simpson: Whatever they got from selling my stuff. The police came and took everything—my art, the rugs. I went out to play golf.
Playboy: Does the civil suit provide a disincentive to work, since your earnings would go to the Goldmans and Browns?
Simpson: I have vowed that I will never pay anything other than what the law says I have to pay. I will not raise a finger to pay them. If it means I can’t work, I won’t work. However, if I did a show tomorrow and they gave me $100,000, I could keep it and spend it. No law says I have to hand it over—they’ve got to get it. By the time they did, it would be gone. I’ve got a little more latitude here in Florida. The state has something called head of the household, which means that my base salary is protected.
Playboy: If you had the money, would you like to pay off the Browns and Goldmans?
Simpson: Hell, no! They don’t deserve one red cent. I didn’t commit this crime. If it means that I have to sit on my butt, or sit on a golf course, for the rest of my life and not make one extra penny, I’ll do that. It’s not because of the Browns. People don’t understand that the Browns didn’t sue me.
Playboy: That’s untrue. They were a party to the civil suit.
Simpson: No, they sued on behalf of the estate of Nicole, just as a way to protect my kids. Lou Brown told me he was signing on to the lawsuit so that if I lost, Goldman wouldn’t get everything. Before I left L.A., people were shocked to see me, Judy and Lou Brown sitting together laughing and watching the kids perform or having dinner. It’s more than putting our differences aside for the kids. You could never do that if, in your heart, you thought somebody really did that.
Playboy: You mean if you thought somebody killed your daughter.
Simpson: Yeah. Judy and I, we’ve had no problems. We’ve talked quite often. Judy and I talk about everything that is going on with the kids.
Playboy: Do you empathize with Fred Goldman? His son was murdered, and he is convinced that you are the murderer.
Simpson: At one point I did, but then I learned about his relationship with his son. In the civil trial, he said that he practiced tough love when his son came to him for help to stay out of jail. My ass! He didn’t help his son, and his son went to jail. Then he had the unmitigated gall to say, “I think it helped, because the next time it happened I didn’t even know about it until after he’d gone to jail.” If it had worked, he wouldn’t have gone back to jail! Who lets their kid go to jail for traffic tickets, or whatever it was? You don’t practice tough love unless he’s a drug addict or something. And Goldman’s mother—oh, Jesus Christ, she was the worst of all. She ain’t never spoke to her kid, and she was the first one to file a lawsuit.
Playboy: How did you feel when Nicole’s father sold her diaries to The National Enquirer?
Simpson: That was wrong. Lou was having a big money problem when this happened. I understand what he did, but not [Nicole’s sister] Denise. Denise is all about the money. She was a welfare child, living at home with no visible means of support for years leading up to Nicole’s death. Just look at her tax returns. She was on welfare. She helped bankrupt Orange County. Her only income in the past 15 years has been since Nicole’s death.
Playboy: We read that Denise is running for Senate.
Simpson: She never would. She would have to open up her books and her past. Trust me, I know her past. There are bodies buried. And I mean literally.
Simpson: Everybody knows she had a lot of problems. She has a boyfriend who was murdered.
Playboy: Are you saying that she was involved?
Simpson: No, I’m not suggesting she had anything to do with it. I’m not saying she killed anybody, but I’m just appalled at what she has done.
Playboy: Back to the changes in your life. What’s it like playing public golf courses after playing only private country clubs?
Simpson: People think I was kicked out of all these private golf courses, but it’s bullshit. I chose to resign. I just didn’t think it was right for me to come there bringing all that baggage. I’ve played a lot of private country clubs since then with no problems, though. It’s ironic when I do get shit, because I ain’t been convicted of nothing. The vice president has two DUIs. The president has one, doesn’t he? I don’t even have drunk driving on my record.
Playboy: Still, you were charged, and acquitted, in a road-rage incident. It was reported that you cut off some guy, got in his face, screamed at him and yanked off his glasses. What happened?
Simpson: I was driving my kids home. We were all fine, and all of a sudden this guy’s on my tail. I stopped, got out and looked to see if something was wrong with my car. He got out and said, “You cut me off!” I said, “Man, you chased me down.” He was in my face and I said, “Man, look—fuck you.” I got in the car laughing. I said to my daughter, “Now, that guy needs decaf.” Then they tried to prosecute me. They said that I took a guy’s glasses off his face? Allegedly, that’s my crime. For that, they asked for the maximum sentence of 17 years. It was the most amazing thing I ever heard. If the kids hadn’t been in the car I would have made a deal. I would have taken anger management. I wouldn’t have run the risk of going to jail. But because I’ve preached to them, “You’ve got to stand up; you can’t let people run over you,” I had to go to court and fight this. I wasn’t nervous the day they read the verdict in the criminal trial, but I was nervous as hell when they were about to read this verdict. Everything I’ve ever believed in wouldn’t matter if I was found guilty in any of these trials, or if I didn’t get my kids in the custody trial. The only trial I lost was the civil trial, and for that the only thing I lost was some money. I didn’t have much anyway by that time. Every other significant trial, I won.
Playboy: Do you acknowledge that you lost more than money in the civil trial? It confirmed what most people suspected, and you lost your reputation.
Simpson: That’s the only reason I kept fighting. A lot of friends told me that I couldn’t win that trial. They had it all set up—the way they picked the jury. The hardest part afterward was adjusting to having two kids and not having unlimited funds. When we first moved here I had no credit cards. I had to get a car, buy a house. I had no cash to put down, so I was hustling. In many ways, though, my life is better now. My budget ain’t what it was, that’s all. I don’t have the Ferrari, the Rolls-Royce. I always used to drive my Bronco anyway. I’m fine as long as I can get to and from the golf course.
Playboy: How often do you play?
Simpson: Pretty much every day.
Playboy: What do you get from golf?
Simpson: [When they found Laci Peterson’s body] Scott Peterson was out playing golf, and people were saying, “What kind of guy is this? These may be his wife’s remains, and he’s going to play golf.” Well, when I got home from Chicago the week Nicole was murdered, I wanted to get on a golf course. I wanted to get away from all the shit—all the hurt, all the pain. It’s the only place I can go to get away from everything. I didn’t go, but I had that feeling. I know that far more executives would be in therapy if it weren’t for golf. A few of his friends helped Vitas Gerulaitis get off drugs, and then his addiction became golf. I used to play with him every day.
Playboy: Is golf an addiction for you?
Simpson: It is. Next to sex, it is the single most addictive thing I’ve ever been into.
Playboy: Some reports hold that you were on drugs before the murders, back in 1994. Were you using drugs?
Simpson: No, and I was tested about a hundred times.
Playboy: What drugs have you used?
Simpson: I remember the first time I took a puff of pot. I was a kid, and I was going after a girl. I got so weirded out, I ran all the way home, virtually across town, trying to get it out of my lungs, thinking I would never play professional ball. Around 1972, there was a lot of pot around the NFL. Late in the season, when it was snowing in Buffalo and you couldn’t go out, a lot of guys smoked pot. You could sit around and play cards, smoke a doobie and fall asleep, then go to practice the next day. I don’t consider myself a pot smoker now, but I think it should be legal.
Playboy: How about cocaine?
Simpson: When I retired from football, everybody was doing cocaine. If anybody in Hollywood tells you they weren’t, they’re lying their ass off. I was like everybody else, right? My house at the time of the murder was searched more than any house in America has ever been searched. If drugs were there, they would have found them.
Playboy: There were in fact stories that you were using cocaine around the time of the murders.
Simpson: Faye Resnick said, “I was with him at a party once, and he went under the table.” It was total bullshit.
Playboy: Do you use any drugs now, even occasionally?
Simpson: I drink some scotch. My drug of choice now is Vioxx. When I got out of jail, I kind of appreciated pot more than I ever had in my life. I didn’t have my kids at first. I couldn’t go nowhere. They used to call me Two Puffs: Two puffs, I’m home. I watch TV. Then I’d sleep like a baby.
Playboy: How about ecstasy?
Simpson: In 1993, one rather famous young lady brought ecstasy to a party. About 20 people took it. I never felt the high. I’m not a pill guy. Pills are not my thing, except glucosamine.
Playboy: It was reported that your home was recently searched in relation to an international ecstasy ring.
Galanter: We can’t discuss this, because it relates to an ongoing case.
Playboy: According to a report in the media, police allegedly found four bags of marijuana, cocaine residue, two drug pipes and a can with marijuana residue.
Galanter: [To Simpson] Don’t say anything. The police did not find any drugs, any illegal materials at all, and Mr. Simpson has never been charged. If you read it somewhere, it’s bad journalism.
Playboy: Do you take sleeping pills?
Simpson: I took them the whole time I was in jail, but not now.
Playboy: Do you ever have nightmares about Nicole or her murder?
Simpson: I used to a lot. At first I wasn’t able to sleep at all, which is why I took sleeping pills. Now I hardly ever dream about it.
Playboy: As an athlete, you probably wondered if women were interested in you or in your celebrity. Did the murders bring you a different type of attention?
Simpson: Strange thing is that it’s actually easier now. Celebrity and notoriety are an attraction device. I never thought I was handsome. When interviewers asked about it, I said, “What good looks?” I said I was fit but never felt I was handsome. Now everybody is fit and I’m not. I can pretty much tell girls who hit on me just for me. Hell, after the criminal trial, two or three of my first affairs were with people I met at the front gate at my house. The tourists would stop in the driveway, and I got to know them and would have a little fling with them.
Playboy: Did some of that attention surprise you? We read that women threw panties over your gate.
Simpson: They threw them over the wall. The media wrote that I was bragging about it. No, I wasn’t bragging about it. I was perplexed by it. I’ve always got over with women as a good guy—a nice-guy athlete—but when I became an infamous guy, it was almost like I had some kind of Spanish fly emanating from my body. Really. Somebody needs to study this phenomenon.
Playboy: How did life change when you moved to Florida?
Simpson: There is a little more international flavor here. It’s a very Latin community. And it ain’t like I’ve dated a lot of girls. I’m 55 years old. I’ve always had this reputation of dating a bunch of girls, but it’s not true. Most of my relationships, even my illicit ones, were long-term relationships. One of my pet peeves is the tabloids’ saying I’m always into blondes. My first wife wasn’t blonde. Nicole was, but Paula Barbieri wasn’t a blonde. Christie Prody, when I first met her, was a brunette. She lightened her hair like a lot of women do. And let me tell you something: A man has no say what a woman is doing to her hair.
Playboy: It was said that Christie dyed her hair to look more like Nicole, that she was a Nicole look-alike. To many people, that seemed creepy.
Simpson: She is by far not the first girl they said was a Nicole look-alike. But with Christie the papers airbrushed her and they took the cleft out of her chin. You know what they can do with photos. Truth is, they don’t look alike. I see some of these people on these shows: “It’s eerie. She looks so much like Nicole.” Well, if I saw a girl who looked like Nicole, I would be totally turned on by her. I always loved the way Nicole looked. I’ve seen guys marry carbon copies of the lady they divorced. What is so eerie about this?
Playboy: Are you still going out with Christie Prody?
Simpson: Yes. We have dated on and off a few times. We got back together not long ago. She went off to do what she had to do, and I’m seeing her now.
Playboy: Are your children critical of the women you date?
Simpson: There is no doubt about it. Any teenage daughter is going to be critical of anything her father does or says. Boys are a little more understanding of what single dads do than daughters are.
Playboy: Would you run any prospective girlfriends by her?
Simpson: I don’t have to, because she is always giving me her opinion, like it or not. Lately, all we’ve been talking about is college. That’s been the big focus with her and me.
Playboy: Do you have to approve Sydney’s boyfriends?
Simpson: With kids, you have no say. I have tried to raise these kids to be independent. I’ve probably given them more room than I should have and spoiled them a little bit. My daughter drives a Lexus. But I spoil everybody in my life. In addition, my kids have had to endure more than most people’s kids. For whatever reason, they have come out of it in pretty good shape. More than not, they still give me fatherly respect.
Playboy: How cautious are you when you meet new people?
Simpson: I can’t live in fear.
Playboy: Are you suspicious?
Simpson: Most of my friends and my daughter have been on me, because they say I am still too trusting. If somebody wants to get you, they’re gonna get you. This is me. You like me or you don’t. I don’t care what your opinion is. What’s amazing to me now is that some people can’t let me go—Bill O’Reilly, Geraldo Rivera. In a way, it’s almost flattery. Ten years later, and they can’t let me go. So many things have happened in this country, but they just can’t let me go.
Playboy: Are some charges more offensive than others?
Simpson: The worst is the abuse. That bothers me as much as anything.
Playboy: Do you admit that you did get physically violent with Nicole?
Simpson: There was the one incident that everyone knows about. Her mother and her best friend said publicly, “Nicole came in the room and attacked him.” I never made any bones that I reacted wrongly. They investigated, went to every girlfriend I’ve ever had, and my girlfriends stood up for me. How many guys in this country can go back their whole lives, and their exes all have nothing but good things to say about them? Yet I’m this poster boy for abuse. That bothers me. As an adult I’ve never had a fight with anybody. Sometimes you have to check a guy who gets a little out of line, but you don’t hit him.
Playboy: How do you explain the series of visits from the police related to rows with Christie Prody?
Simpson: I was living in a hotel when I moved here. Christie got a flat tire about a mile away. She walked to the hotel. I wasn’t registered in my name, and apparently she gave the desk a hard time. They called me, and I told them to send her up. They sent her to the wrong room. I heard something down the hall. I looked out and saw her, and I said, “I’m down here.” She was walking toward me, just beside herself. A lady behind her, who was already pissed at her for whatever had taken place downstairs, called the police.
Playboy: The woman reported that Prody hit you.
Simpson: She never hit me. It was nothing, and yet the next day, media trucks were everywhere. People like Bill O’Reilly refer to it as the knockdown, drag-out fight at the hotel. It’s part of O.J.’s legacy. Another time, I went to her house to drop something off. When I drove up, I saw a neighbor staring. The guy sprints into his house. Five minutes later, I leave. I’m driving home, and I get a call from Christie: “O.J., you won’t believe this. The cops just came and asked me if I was all right.” I didn’t think anything about it, but the next day the papers reported that she and I had a fight so loud that the neighbors called the police. I was pissed. We asked the neighbors. It was just one guy. Two weeks later, they released the 911 call. The guy didn’t even call to report a fight. He thought there was some type of court order against me being within 100 yards of her. It was a total mistake.
Playboy: Another time, you apparently called 911 regarding a woman who was high on drugs. The media reported that it was Prody.
Simpson: It wasn’t. Some friends were trying to do an intervention on a girl with a drug problem. She went into hysterics and got in a car. I did exactly what everybody tells their kids to do: Don’t let a friend drive under the influence. She wasn’t my friend, but I called 911. I just wanted the cops to stop her. I just didn’t want this girl to kill herself or somebody else. Suddenly it’s a fight between me and my girlfriend. Drugs were involved. I’m the big news.
Playboy: It sounds like you think it’s an accident that you are involved in so many incidents with the police. Most people make it through their lives without the police being called at all.
Simpson: It’s because I’m big news and people make money on it. It all becomes part of the O.J. story.
Playboy: Throughout this interview, you have seemed incredulous that people still think you are guilty.
Simpson: No, it doesn’t surprise me, because every day something was in the media—the shovel, the plastic bag. They never talked about the explanations. After the trial I spoke at Oxford and a couple colleges in L.A., and I put it to a vote: Who thinks I’m guilty? Eighty percent did. Why would I do it? Jealousy. Show me one shred of evidence that they presented in the court that goes with the jealousy theory. To this day you hear people say it was about jealousy and control. Yes, she had the thing with Marcus Allen, but that happened years before. They made it like it just happened. On 20/20, Barbara Walters said, “We found out that O.J. had some financial strains. His Hertz deal was up, and they weren’t going to rehire him. His NBC deal was up. He’s paying in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $55,000 a month in alimony and support.” Hugh Downs said, “A lot of people say that might give a person a reason to do something drastic.” Then they go off the air. They’ve left the American public with a motive. But NBC had just extended my contract and given me a raise. Hertz, two or three months earlier, had extended my contract and given me a big raise. I didn’t pay any alimony. This is supposedly an investigative journalism show, and they just flat-out lied. They could easily have called Hertz, NBC or any lawyer involved in the divorce. They could have called Nicole’s parents. They would have known that every facet of this story was a lie. I was so pissed off, I got Barbara Walters on the phone, and she gave me some hullabaloo: “Well, O.J., that really wasn’t my story. They just put it on the Tele-prompter. I didn’t have time to check it. I will look into this.” Has she ever gone public and said that story was absolutely false?
Playboy: The infamous Bronco ride didn’t help. Why, if you weren’t guilty, were you trying to get away?
Simpson: Don’t you find it curious that in not one of the trials did the prosecution bring up the Bronco ride? The perception was better than the facts.
Playboy: Which were?
Simpson: I wasn’t trying to get away. And I wasn’t even driving.
Playboy: That’s not relevant. Your friend could have been trying to help you flee.
Simpson: We called the police. They knew where we were going. We were going to my house from the cemetery.
Galanter: One of the first things they teach you in law school is that evidence of flight can be used as evidence of guilt. It’s not flight if someone calls the police and says, “This is where we’re going, if you want to meet us.”
Playboy: Many Americans watched the chase on TV. You sure looked like someone who was guilty.
Simpson: Looked like? Maybe, but you have to know the facts. I was going home, and the police knew it.
Galanter: It wasn’t a flight situation. If it were, the prosecution would have used it.
Playboy: If the police knew where you were heading, why were they after you?
Simpson: Ask them! Police from every jurisdiction were there.
Galanter: It was because it was an event. It was on the national news. They preempted everything else on television.
Playboy: How do you respond to the theory that you committed the crime but don’t know that you did—that you blacked out or have blocked it out?
Simpson: How ridiculous is that? I don’t think I’ve ever come across as some flighty kind of guy. I’ve always been outspoken and loud. That’s some pseudo-intellectual analysis. Listen, I know I was a very well-liked guy before. I’m an easy target. If everything people like Bill O’Reilly say about my trial were real facts, I wouldn’t be here talking to you. I realize that O’Reilly’s show is about him being a dick sometimes. But it amazes me that our society has reached a point where the nastier you are, the more popular you are. The other reason my story wouldn’t go away is that it helped so many careers, and these people keep it going. They refer to it all the time.
Playboy: Does it bother you that many people have made careers off you?
Simpson: To be honest, I don’t begrudge anybody. I don’t begrudge Marcia Clark getting $4 million for her book. I don’t have any feelings one way or the other.
Playboy: How about the others?
Simpson: I have a little sore spot with Robert Kardashian and Larry Schiller, because they didn’t have to lie and use everybody, from me to Lee Bailey to Johnnie Cochran. What they did was dishonest. Bob needed the money, and we all agreed to help him with his book. As a lawyer, though, some privileged things couldn’t be in the book. To get around that in the end, because they wanted dirt, they made it Schiller’s book, with Bob as an advisor. That was wrong. It was bullshit.
Playboy: Did any journalists give you a fair shake?
Simpson: Linda Deutsch, Greta Van Susteren—those are people I have respect for. Greta doesn’t try to belittle people. I’m a big Greta fan. But if I start talking about the ones I think were just totally dishonest, the list would be way too long. Barbara Walters and I had finally almost made up and I was going to do her show. At the last minute they wouldn’t do it because I wanted it live. I’m not gonna tape it so you can make it whatever way you want. So she told everyone that she didn’t want me. I’ll be damned if she didn’t call me. Barbara Walters can kiss my ass. That lady has no integrity as far as I’m concerned. Larry King kind of came and went with me. We were going to have a debate between my camp and Fuhrman’s. We were told that Fuhrman wouldn’t go on with my guy, so they canceled him. Larry King told the audience that they wanted somebody from the O.J. camp but we declined to send anybody. I lost my respect for him, though I’ve gotten some of it back.
Playboy: Many people feel that your dream team of defense lawyers are the ones responsible for a murderer—you—walking around free. The verdict infuriated many people who thought you got off because you were rich and famous, and money in America is what matters.
Simpson: Well, I didn’t commit the crime. That is why I got off. I feel in my heart that I got off because I was innocent, but I don’t know if I could have proven my innocence if I didn’t have the money. And that’s a shame. Yes, it is a shame that in this country it costs so much to get good representation.
Playboy: If a friend of yours were in a similar situation and could afford the dream team, would you recommend the same configuration, or would you revise it?
Simpson: The problem I had, and this became a full-time job, was ego, headed by the feud between Shapiro and Lee Bailey. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t make changes. How can you change success? Obviously, there were too many lawyers, too many cooks, but everybody did a great job.
Playboy: Recent reports claim that you will be doing a reality TV show.
Simpson: I saw a poll the other day that said 93 percent of people would watch a reality show of mine. That’s a hell of a number for anybody. People have been talking to me about doing one, but I expect it will get bogged down somewhere. The average person on the street would love to hear me comment on Robert Blake or Scott Peterson. I have a unique insight on what they’re going through.
Playboy: Do you know Blake?
Simpson: We used to work out at the same gym back in the 1970s. I understood when he wanted to speak to the public. I fought Johnnie Cochran on that, too. I felt I had to take the stand. Marcia and them would say all these things in argument and in their opening and closing statements, and I wanted to address them. I never could.
Playboy: You once said that your mission now is to convince the public of your innocence. Do you still think you can?
Simpson: I still think that I might be able to. The last thing a couple of people would want is for me to find out I’ve got six months to live. Then I think I would get to the truth real quick.
Playboy: What are you implying?
Simpson: Why don’t we just leave it at that? I always thought that if they had put pressure on Faye Resnick in the beginning, especially when they found out she’d lied to me, they may have learned the truth about who killed Nicole.
Playboy: Are you saying Resnick knows?
Simpson: Not that she killed Nicole, but they never investigated those people around her, the circle. Maybe it was people she hung out with in that crowd. I’m not saying that Faye was involved directly, but she may know more than she has said. I can’t dwell on that. I have my life, my children.
Playboy: Do you go to church?
Simpson: I do. I take my children to a Catholic church. They are Catholic because of their mother. I go to a Baptist church, too. In jail, I read the Koran as well as the Bible. I still read both.
Playboy: Do you believe in heaven and hell?
Simpson: I do.
Playboy: Where will you be heading?
Simpson: Heaven. I’ll be seeing my mother there.
Playboy: What’s the best O.J. Simpson joke you’ve heard?
Simpson: I was in the Bronco and when I realized where we were heading, I said to A.C., “I said Costa Rica, motherfucker, not Costa Mesa.”
Playboy: What one thing would you like to say to those of us who are convinced you’re guilty of murder?
Simpson: Worry about your own soul. I’ll worry about mine. Worry about your own soul.