Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jesse, MLK and ... O.J.?

On a 1974 episode of "Good Times" that I happened to catch late last night, little Michael Evans was laboring over whom to profile in a school assignment that asked him to identify the man he most admired.

Michael briefly thought about Jesse Jackson. I think someone mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr. Thelma suggested a woman. And J.J., showing himself to be a questionable judge of character, went with O.J. Simpson.

It was the year after O.J. became the first NFL running back to surpass 2,000 yards in a season, after all.

And, for all that's happened in the years since, let us not forget that O.J. was one of the best athletes to ever slip on a pair of cleats and one of the first marketable black athletes in this country. Below is some proof that there were better days for the Juice.

O.J. was really something of a hero to the children of another generation. It really wasn't too far-fetched at the time - I mean, as recently as my childhood days, I only knew of him because of his athletic legacy, Hertz commercials and from playing Nordberg in "The Naked Gun."

But as we know, the only real, earthly diviner of the truth is time: O.J. might be the most disgraced, former great athlete of my lifetime. And I don't even know if it's close.

As for the show, I fell asleep - or the First Lady changed the channel - but I think Michael went with his pops.


Esquire said...

I tried to think of someone else, but I couldn't. I think you are right and OJ is the greatest fall from grace of an athlete...

blackink said...

If stature wasn't an unspoken prerequisite, I might go with someone like Rae Carruth.

But Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Maurice Clarett ... those guys got nothing on O.J.

avery said...

i was watchin that espisode the other day. wow. but looking retrospectively, was was oj really "black" then, or did he not really cross over til later? well naw, i guess i don't remember seeing his first pictures w/ nicole brown until the early 80's - and that was in an Ebony magazine on which he was the cover.

dang. holmes fell off hawrd.

blackink said...

I guess, especially because the media coverage wasn't so thick, O.J. was "black enough" because there wasn't much cause to doubt his credentials.

He was married to Marguerite, had a couple kids, an Afro and could stomp a mudhole into a linebacker's chest.

Few people could have known that he had a thing for blondes, wasn't much of a philanthropist or was sort of an all-around jerk. Jim Brown even had some animosity toward him on a number of those fronts(though some of that could have been because Jim figured O.J. threatened his supremacy as the league's best-ever back).

Just seems weird, even in play-play, that someone would invoke the name of O.J. in the company of men like Jesse and MLK. It'd be like someone today trying to compare LeBron with Pres-Elect Obama. Sure, you can do it. But it seems silly.

Now, for O.J., it seems so much worse than silly. It's just a reminder that homeboy took a serious spill.

K & B said...

O.J. spoke at my mom's high school athletic banquet at Booker T. Washington the year after he won the Heisman (I think.) Anyway she has an autographed program from him, and she asked him if she could have the hankerchief from his suit. She still has it to this day. She said he was the biggest star at the time. My mom was quite the looker so it's no wonder she got the hanky. You think I could sell it? I mean at least now I can rest assured he won't hunt me down with a gun to get it back. Lol

blackink said...

Lol. Hey, O.J. just wanted his stuff. He's sorry. Really sorry. He didn't know he was doing anything wrong.

But, on the real, I'm almost certain O.J. took a run at your mom. Which is crazy.

I mean, I was telling the First Lady this: O.J. seemed to have it all. He was athletic, rich, charming (to those who didn't know him well) and a good-looking dude. It's astounding to think about how his life has unfolded.