It was Like ‘The Twilight Zone,’ But With O.J., it Was All Too Real

In this Oct. 3, 1995, file photo, O.J. Simpson reacts as he is found not guilty in the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles. Defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey, left, and Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. stand with him. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

Rick Cleveland at Mississippi Today: No telling how many times this sports writer has made the drive back from Oxford to Jackson following some sports event. Hundreds of times for sure. I don’t know, but I do know the strangest and most bizarre — the drive that seemed like it was right out of a Rod Serling “Twilight Zone” episode.

The date was June, 16, 1994, nearly 30 years ago. A cohort and I had covered a press conference during which Ole Miss announced a sordid list of NCAA recruiting violations, highlighted by accusations of cash, cars and airplane tickets being used to entice football recruits, also entertained at Memphis strip clubs. It was seedy stuff. 

We were ready for lighter fare. The NBA Championship series was being played. We wanted to listen. Instead, fumbling through the static of AM radio, we found, of all things, a slow-moving car chase.

It was surreal. The newscast was coming from Los Angeles. A white Ford Bronco, with O.J. Simpson in the backseat, was on an L.A. freeway, being followed by a phalanx of police cars and helicopters. The announcer told us that O.J., the prime suspect in the murder of his wife and a friend, was holding a gun to his own head.

The reporter told us so much more: That Simpson had left a letter, threatening suicide. That people were actually lining the interstate and the overpasses, cheering the procession. One station would fade, and we would find another. The “chase” continued. We were told that Simpson and his driver apparently were listening to the same report we were.

This cannot be real, we thought. This can’t be happening. But it was. And it got stranger still.

Vince Evans, Simpson’s former Southern Cal teammate, called the station and was put on the air with a message for his friend. Between sobs, Evans managed, “Juice, we love you Juice, God, Juice, pull the car over. Just pull the car over…”

Then, John McKay, Simpson’s former coach at USC, called the station and he, too, addressed Simpon. “O.J., this is your coach. My God, O.J., stop this nonsense. If you pull over, I will come out there right now. I’ll stand by you the rest of my life. Please, Juice, I love you.”

Had this been a scene in a Hollywood movie, it would have been panned for not being believable…

More here.