If you were alive and able to understand what was going on around you at the time, this story had been consuming the airwaves for quite some time during the lengthy trial, much of which was televised for some reason.
O.J. Simpson was a legendary hall-of-fame American Football player and is largely considered to be one of the greatest running-backs of all time. Of course you are very unlikely to see him on those lists today as convicted felons aren't generally welcome in the hall of fame or on sports lists in general.
However, that felony did not come during his most famous trial and many people consider the trial itself to be the first seriously popular reality show.
The year was 1995
Personally, I am more afraid of whatever that is standing behind O.J.
I remember the day that it happened very clearly. I was unaware that the particular day (today) was actually the final day of the trial. It was the "season finale" so to speak and while I didn't know about it because I was working on developing my alcoholism as a college student, the rest of the world was very tuned in to this important event. More than 140 million people tuned in for the final day of the trial and to put that into perspective that is 50 million more people that watched the most recent Super Bowl and twice as many that watched the recent first Presidential debate: So yeah, it was kind of a big deal.
Obviously, not everyone was super-pleased about this outcome and I think that if people were being honest they would agree that they everyone knew that he was guilty but his star-power and very good attorney were able to get him off. Such is the way of the world it seems.
The day the news broke I was in the middle of a shift at my job at Pizza Hut, working the always busy lunch buffet (does anyone go to those anymore?) I saw a woman at the payment counter that was just elated and I mistook her glee for sadness so I asked her "what's wrong" and she told me that the Simpson verdict just came out. I asked her what the decision was and she said "not guilty...yes!" and then walked out the door pumping her fist in the air.
For many people, this became a time that many people knew that he did it, but were still happy that he got away with it because of his fame, charisma, and because prior to that he had been not just a famous athlete, but also a famous commentator, and played mostly wholesome roles in multiple films the most famous of which were his involvement in the Naked Gun films.
I was too young to really be wrapped up in it all but the prevailing news was that everyone knew he did it but just got away with it.
My favorite moment of the reporting on this issue was probably on Saturday Night Live where the skit called Weekend Update was hosted by Norm Macdonald, who I think is one of the most underappreciated cast members of that show of all time. Norm was relentless in his mocking of O.J. the first of which he opened the update with the intro
Well, it's official. Murder is legal in the State of California
Norm carried on with more jokes about Simpson, including how Simpson said "he would not rest until Nicole's murderer was found" as he shows a slide of O.J. on the golf course while stating "and the search goes on!"
Norm was later fired from his job on SNL for going after Simpson so aggressively.
As I am sure many of you know, O.J. Simpson was later found guilty in a civil court of these crimes and the wrongful death cases he was found guilty and the jury awarded 33.5 million dollars to the families of the deceased. O.J. later moved to Florida to avoid continuing to pay this, which is something he still owes most of to this day.
In another trial involving kidnapping and robbery (I don't know the full details) Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison and was out on parole in 9. He is a free man today and for the most part tries to stay out of the public spotlight. He is 73 years old today and we can probably assume that his crime days are behind him.
I am one of the people that believes that he definitely committed the murders and his acquittal is a good sign of the fallacies of our justice system in the USA. Only O.J. knows what really happened and although he has written several books about the topic, there are a lot of people out there that believe it is just a string of lies that the man will take to the grave with him.
It was a shocking moment in time and it all happened today, 25 years ago.