A Las Vegas court today levied the maximum 18-year sentence to O.J. Simpson for armed robbery and kidnapping. This is hardly inspiring. Moreover, I get no sense of justice, relief, or satisfaction. The immediate conversation, not unlike the famous murder trial of 1990s that left us asking how Simpson’s celebrity figured into the verdict, is just how much the 1996 not guilty verdict figured into the jury’s guilty verdict today. We would be naive to think that this wasn’t in the somewhere in the collective minds of the jury. I suspect, however, that this figured very little—if any—into the verdict or sentencing itself. These are very serious crimes that stand alone.
Regardless, this closes a sad chapter. An empty, barren chapter that promises to repercussions for so many: Simpson’s own children, the Goldman family, the Brown family. Simpson was the All American. Literally. A Heisman Trophy winner for the University of Southern California. He went on to be one of the greatest NFL players in the history of the game. From there he starred both on television and in feature films. He was a pitchman for a nationally renown company. And now to see his life culminate in the 5-minute plea for leniency at his most recent trial shows us just how quickly, and how far, we can fall; and how pitiful life can become in a relatively brief period of time. His statements seemed sincere enough, but Agonistes doesn’t believe Simpson laments anything but getting caught. In his final statement he tells all those on hand in the courtroom that he is confused. I would use the word “disoriented” to describe his state of mind. One’s first reaction to this might be disbelief. But, you know, he probably is confused. At least he looks like it. Finding his journey in its present circumstance and considering its future destination likely confuses him as much as anybody else. It’s mind boggling to consider how things can change.
Legal experts are saying that he will spend a minimum of 8 years behind bars. Some say the sentence is too severe. Others, based on their confidence in Simpson’s guilt in the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Simpson, feel the maximum sentence to be more-than-fair. But what’s most noticeable to me is Simpson’s brokenness. He is empty. Could it be due to carrying some awful burden? In this post I’ll just say that it has the look and feel of something final. For good or bad, this chapter seems closed.