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O.J. Simpson will not be welcomed back by USC, says Trojans’ coach

Being widely considered a double-murderer didn’t prevent O.J. Simpson from attending a 2002 practice for the football team at Southern California, the school for which he won a 1968 Heisman Trophy. But now that Simpson is soon to be a free man again, with his release from a Nevada prison set for October, he won’t be welcomed back by the Trojans.

That’s according to USC Coach Clay Helton, who told reporters Thursday (via ESPN), “Right now with USC, what the administration and the athletic department have said is, no, O.J. will not be a part of our functions. That’s been the statement.”

Helton had been asked if Simpson might be invited back to watch the Trojans work out, much as had happened 15 years ago, which was seven years after he was acquitted of killing his wife and a friend of hers in a trial that gripped the nation. In that instance (per the Los Angeles Times), then-coach Pete Carroll was happy to have the former USC star around.

“It was good to have him out here,” Carroll said in Davie, Fla., where Simpson, then a Miami resident, watched the Trojans prepare to take on Iowa in the Orange Bowl.

“At ‘SC, our guys hold a Heisman Trophy winner in the highest regard. For them to get a chance to see him and visit with him was very special for them.”

“I don’t think I could ever feel disconnected from ‘SC, I really don’t,” Simpson said then, while, according to the Times, shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures with onlookers. Simpson had reportedly not attended a Trojans practice since the 1980s, and when asked about the last time he had any direct involvement with the program, he said, “It’s been a while . . . probably since my ordeal.”

Of that “ordeal,” and the notoriety Simpson earned from it, then-offensive lineman Lenny Vandermade said, “It’s at the back of anybody’s mind. You’re not going to totally block it out, but you try to look at him in a positive manner and not put a negative spin on it.

“I just kind of remember him as a football player and what he did for ‘SC.”

As fate would have it, what Simpson did as a football player indirectly proved to be his undoing. He and two accomplices were convicted in 2008 of attempting to rob two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, and he was sentenced to a 9-to-33-year term.

This month, a Nevada parole board ruled that Simpson would be released from prison on or after Oct. 1, which would be during football season. But rather than the embrace he received from Carroll, it sounds like the former Heisman winner should now expect something more like a stiff-arm from USC.

Source: denverpost

About Michel Cooper

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