A strange anniversary

I wouldn’t have even realized it if I hadn’t seen it on ESPN.

Fifteen years ago, today.

The slowest high-speed chase in history.

But you couldn’t stop watching.

It was Sunday, July 17, 1994.

According to the ESPN report, it was actually a pretty big day in sports … Arnold Palmer’s final U.S. Open round, … a big Ken Griffey Jr. HR, … NBA Finals Game 5, … the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup parade.

But if it hadn’t been the opening day of the World Cup, I may have missed any live coverage of that bizarre day.

What I saw of the slowest high-speed chase in world history I witnessed from a bungalow in the Bahamas. I was on vacation with my girlfriend, Eli, and her family. Her father was Italian and a huge soccer fan. The only reason we watched TV that day was so he could see the first day of the World Cup being held in the U.S.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

O.J. Simpson on the run. There was no way he did it. Had to be some mistake. He was framed, he was covering for someone. It had to be something else. O.J. Simpson? A double-murderer? No way.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt for quite some time. It was a sad story, in a way. But eventually I joined most sane people at the conclusion that he killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and the unlucky Ronald Goldman.

I remember where I was when the not guilty verdict was read, standing with about 50 others, including my friend Tyrone Walker, in one of the lounges in Clemson’s old University Union. A bunch of people cheered. A bunch were angry. A bunch, like Tyrone and myself, simply couldn’t believe what we had just heard.

Our security guard at the newspaper, Mr. Black, and I talked about that trial tonight. It’s amazing the things and people who have become part of the culture as a result of that tragedy. It amazes me how easy it was to list their names. Some were famous before, but most were about to get their five minutes …

Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark.

Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran.

F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. And Barry Scheck.

Judge Lance Ito and Henry Lee.

Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren.

Mark Fuhrman and Kato Kaelin.

A.J. Cowlings, Fred Goldman and Denise Brown.

Robert Kardashian and Traci Adell.

Do you remember them all? And what they did?

Remember how many people covered the trial. I t made Court TV. Cosack and Van Susteren had a show that ran for eight years that never would have come into being if not for the trial. Van Susteren is still on the air.

Did you know, despite leading the police on that ridiculous chase, no charges were ever filed against Cowlings? In fact, O.J. was never charged with evading arrest, either.

It just seemed so surreal. O.J. Simpson running. I mean really on the run. I spent the rest of my week in the Bahamas certain that by the time we returned home, all this would be settled. Little did I know ….

And it all started for me, like most Americans, with those oh-so-familiar film clips of a white Ford Bronco making it’s way down a California freeway.

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One Response to “A strange anniversary”

  1. fredsmilek001 Says:

    This is one of the most legendary car chases ever. I can’t believe it has been that long either but OJ finally got his in Vegas

    http://www.fredjsmilek.com

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