Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thanks for the memory O.J.

Yesterday's news of former NFL football legend O.J. Simpson's prison sentence for a Las Vegas motel armed robbery was a bittersweet moment for me because I remember a different O.J from a brief encounter over 24 years ago.

My wife and I were walking on Martin Luther King Boulevard towards the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch the track & field competition during the 1984 Olympics. Catching a glimpse of someone I recognized ahead of me, I looked at my wife and said to her, "look, it's O.J. Simpson!" My wife replied with a "who is that?" response.

I told her, "It's O.J. Simpson and he's a well-known former professional football player and now sports announcer. He's probably going to the same place we are to cover the track & field event. Let's see if we can get him to autograph our ticket and maybe take a photo with you."

So I approached him and asked if he would autograph our ticket and be in a photo with my wife. "Sure" he replied with a friendly smile. With the stroke of a pen in hand, he autographed our ticket. Then, with a photogenic smile he posed for a couple camera shots of my wife and him. "Thank you O.J." was my response as the three of us proceeded in the same direction along our merry way.

That was then and this is now.

The tragedy that has been part of his life is sad and unfortunate. It's not my job to judge whether he was innocent or guilty of the crimes he was charged. That was the job of our criminal justice system, and in one case he was found innocent and in the other case he was found guilty. But it is my job to have empathy for him as a human being and child of God and for those other human beings and children of God who were victims of these crimes.

His prison sentence is a very long time and not how he contemplated spending the senior citizen years of his life. It's really so sad but also a stark reminder of how our lives can change so drastically and so suddenly from the visions we have for them.

Thanks for this valuable lesson and thanks for the memory O.J.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the insight in this reflection - not often seen in discussions.

I remember hearing about the news of the first crime. The thought sickened and saddened me. I distinctly remember thinking, "I don't want to hear anything else about it until the trial is over, and then just the result. Nothing else."

Well, that didn't happen, unfortunately. A whole new level of hysteria and voyeurism/entertainment developed. It's sad.

Thanks for letting it be sad and reflective.