Bruce Fromong, both friend to and victim of O.J. Simpson, offered testimony July 20 to help spring him from jail. Fromong’s one-time memorabilia client in the 1990s became a victim in 2007 at the Palace Station Hotel, when Simpson entered a room to recover autographed memorabilia that he was trying to recover as his property.
A court disagreed that Simpson and his armed cohorts weren’t at the Hotel to recover “family heirlooms” and personal items from Fromong and fellow dealer Alfred Beardsley, who subsequently died in 2015.
The incident would eventually be prosecuted as a Las Vegas robbery.
In fact, on July 20 Fromong told the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners and a national television audience that he one time did have a few personal items. He actually apologized in his testimony that he never acknowledged that. He should have just returned the items. Some have speculated that Simpson probably could have gotten the items back for a few signed items. And, long story short, more than nine years of doing the grind in the slammer might never have happened.
On this day, though, Fromong called Simpson “a good man” and thought nine and half years of the 33-year sentence was “way too long” to be in prison. He said he’d originally recommended a sentence of one-to-three years for the robbery. He was sincere. So was Simpson. The commissioners agreed 4-0, just as the wagers in Vegas thought, to let him go on Oct. 1 or soon thereafter.
At the time, the murder rap in the early 1990s, from which Simpson was exonerated, was still fresh on the minds of the public and the families involved, notably the family of Ron Goldman, who was also murdered on that miserable, bloody day.
On this day of good news for Simpson, sports collectors on were mixed in their entertaining, social media responses about the Juice returning to the marketplace as a commodity.
“Does this mean the knife and glove are going to be sold as collectors items?” came one question.
In response to an article proclaiming Simpson collectibles as hot items, one response was, “I will sell.”
Another: “What’s an O.J. Simpson jersey going for these days? What if it’s signed” What if he’s dead? Things to think about for the collector market.”
Sweet Spot in 1993, in only its second year of publishing, reported in an interview with agent Mike Gilbert Simpson was signing photographs in jail to help pay legal bills and other expenses.
In 2017, what does the marketplace look like for O.J. Simpson? Notoriety memorabilia has a market. Besides, O.J. Simpson is still in the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame. He’s still a Heisman Trophy winner.
Would nonprofit organizations utilize his celebrity or notoriety to raise funds for a worthy cause? Would one of the large autograph/memorabilia shows risk having him make an appearance at its already high-cost shows? While some collectors might eagerly seek out his signature, others would clearly steer clear in today’s spirit of boycotting things.
Imagine the protesters. Fathers and grandfathers bringing their children and grandchildren to lay eyes on one of the great running backs ever, even a 2,000-yard rusher, might just wonder how is it that this old guy born in 1947 was once great. Heck, he’s now listed at 290 pounds.
Would show promoters have to prepare for some nut job sneaking in a weapon? Would they install metal detectors to guard against some lunatic who wants his own 15 seconds of fame? Nope, that might make autograph shows a not very kid-friendly environment.
Perhaps promoters could sell raffle tickets to giveaway a white Ford Bronco. Ford actually has abandoned the line. (For those who don’t remember, the world — well, 95 million viewers in it anyway — watched a low-speed chase, showing Simpson and driver Al Cowlings cruising L.A. freeways, following the murder of ex-wife Nicole and Goldman.)
By the way, the Bronco reportedly was sold in 1996 for $200,000. It once was owned by Michael Pulwer, a Miami collector who once was called a porn king; a subsequent collector picked it up for $75,000.
If and when Simpson signs, what would he be willing to sign? Don’t count on anything with Nicole and the kids. Football action shots with USC and Buffalo are easy inventory. How about photos of him and Monday Night Football crew, if anyone really wanted it? Anyone for action shots of him in “Frogman” or “Naked Gun?”
Perhaps for variety, he’d sign photographs of him squeezing on a pair of gloves. Or copies of his “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer” or “American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.”
Could dual-signed books by Simpson and any number of Simpson authors — Jeffrey Toobin, Vincent Bugliosi, Daniel Petrocelli, Alan Dershowitz, Detectives Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter, Marcia Clark, Robert Shapiro, Sheila Weller, Cheryl Kane and Det. James Pembroke, Ronald Williams, T.H. Johnson, Andy Caldwell, Gerry Spence, Kim Goldman and so many more . . . and let’s not forget Henry Beard’s epic “O.J.’s Legal Pad” — find the marketplace? The list of book and VHS covers would fill the Amazon, the river, not the website.
For autograph purists, one silver lining to evaluating any interest in Simpson’s autograph is the fact that it is not only legible, it is scrawled with a flourish. The marketing potential explodes for Simpson with the long list of honors bestowed on him. You name it. He’s done it. . . . MVPs, Awards, All-Americans, NFL All-Decade, NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time team.
Then, there are the nicknames. They’d make fine inscriptions, don’t you think? Of course, there’s “The Juice” or just “Juice”; his prison nickname, by all accounts, was “stinky.” Don’t ask.
Simpson may leave prison in October, but he’ll have to live under the terms of his parole till Sept. 29, 2022, and submit monthly reports to a parole officer. No drugs, no drinking or boom the deals off. Simpson wants to live in Miami, where he has family and a home listed on the market for $1.3 million.
Proceeds from autographing would reportedly be garnished to pay the balance of a 1997 $33.5 million judgment to the Goldman family. Simpson does receive a $25,000 monthly pension from the NFL. Apparently, that sum is untouchable.