For 20 years since his infamous Bronco chase, O.J. Simpson's Hall of Fame bust has remained in Canton, Ohio, and I'd like to meet anyone that has looked at it and thought only about his football career.
On June 17, 1994, "football player" was knocked off the top spot of Simpson's legacy. He led police on that famous low-speed chase through the California freeway system back to Brentwood after he was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Most sane people realized that day that he wasn't acting like an innocent person.
Simpson would be found not guilty of murder charges in criminal court, at the controversial conclusion of the most famous trial in American history. In 1997, a jury unanimously found Simpson liable for the deaths at the conclusion of a civil trial. In 2008, Simpson was found guilty of armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from an incident in Las Vegas. He was sent to jail, where he remains.
He also remains in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Why?
The rules of the Hall of Fame voting state that only on-field performance, not character issues, are to be taken into account. That rings hollow. Certainly football's most hallowed place can and should hold its own membership to a higher standard.
June 17, 1994 might have been the worst moment in NFL history. There are certainly other candidates, but having one of the most beloved Hall of Fame players run from the law after being charged with two murders, with seemingly the entire world watching it play out, was horrible for many reasons. It makes no sense that the Hall of Fame adheres to its blanket rule on character, and can't look at a case like Simpson and decide that someone who has shamed the game after induction is not fit to be among the game's legends. If there was ever a case in which the Hall of Fame's officials needed to convene and make a tough decision on removing an inductee, this was it.
Yet, people who go to Canton still see Simpson's bust alongside the game's legends. Nobody can take away what Simpson did on the field, but his continued Hall of Fame membership is still embarrassing to everyone involved.
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