OJ Simpson was granted parole last Thursday and will be released from prison as early as October 1st. This is another amazing development in a seminal story that has captivated public interest for more than two decades. OJ was my hero in the seventies. I even wore number 32 for my middle school athletic teams in order to be more like him. After the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, I must admit that I was one of the people that did not want to believe he was guilty, and was happy when he was acquitted. Over the next 10 years, OJ gravely disappointed a lot of us who wanted to believe in him – slipping into a life of debauchery culminating in the gangster-like attempt to reclaim memorabilia in Las Vegas that finally sent him to prison. Deservedly or not, OJ was more than a famous athlete, whose bizarre story became a metaphor for American values and culture encapsulating everything from our obsession with celebrities to our latent challenges with race and justice. The Academy Award winning documentary, “OJ: Made in America”, is filmmaking at its best – brutally honest and perhaps one of the best commentaries on contemporary American society ever produced. It’s a five part, 10-hour film, but worth the time. If you haven’t seen it, you can catch it on Amazon or Hulu.
The NFL markets its brand as well as any enterprise in the world. I heard a comedian once say that the NFL is so popular, it has its own day. NFL football is huge. Each NFL franchise brings in approximately $400M a year in revenue; almost double the annual revenue of NBA teams and 2 ½ times as much as MLB clubs.