Until we all meet our final reward, we'll never know how Bill Russell feels about getting a posthumous "God bless him," from OJ Simpson. Though in all those years of watching Russell be a statue-worthy elder statesman of Boston sports, a broadcaster and an outspoken advocate of social and political causes, he never struck me as being interested in tributes from anyone but his former teammates and rivals. That, plus the fact he came across as pretty much anti-murder. So my guess is he'd be less than moved by hearing how he inspired a young Orenthal James Simpson.
But that's neither here nor there. This is all about OJ's take on Deshaun Watson's suspension. He, after all, is one of America's foremost authorities on accepting the findings of a legal proceeding, having been through several of them. Both criminal and civil. The Juice has won some and lost some. Plus he's one of the handful of people alive who know what it's like to play pro football at a higher level than Watson. So if there's anyone qualified to put Judge Sue L. Robinson's ruling in its proper perspective, who could be better?
“She looked at it. She came out with a decision. Hey, man, that’s it! That should be it.
“People are saying, ‘Why would he settle if he was innocent?’ Hey, look guys, he’s not going to change anyone’s mind no matter what he does. He can’t change my mind. I think he was probably out of line with some of the girls, and I think some of the girls jumped onboard because there was a chance of making money.”
So there you have it. Straight from the horse's mouth. From a man who has the unquestioned moral authority to speak on this issue. Watson's supporters, his detractors, Browns fans, opposing fans, people who believe Watson, those who believe his accusers, all of us need to heed Simpson's sage advice and say, "Hey man, that's it!" Because that's what OJ would do. WWOJD.
Of course, one could argue his record of accepting verdicts is somewhat ... well, spotty. Inconsistent. Sure, he loved that first one. When the jury came back after deliberating for an hour and a half after like six months of trial, Juice embraced it. Nobody was more "Hey, man, that's it!" than him. Hell, he even wrote a book called, If I Did It. The cover of which looked very much like it read, I Did It. He was all about that decision.
The other two, not so much. There was that wrongful death lawsuit, where he took the L and was ordered to pay Ron Goldman's family. It was hard not to notice a decided lack of "That should be it" after that one. But a shitload of hiding all his stuff, hanging onto his Heisman Trophy and essentially telling the Goldmans and the civil jury to cram their multi-million dollar award all the way up their buttholes. And that guilty finding where he went to prison for stealing back his own memorabilia at gunpoint while he was on probation? He hasn't shut up about how stupid and unjust that was.
But on Judge Robinson's finding? That's where he finally found religion. Simpson might have almost decapitated the mother of his children and cut her friend to ribbons - allegedly - and beat the rap. But he wants us to know his moral code draws the line at questioning the ruling of a retired judge in an NFL disciplinary hearing. It's good to hear his respect for the law might not prevent him from double homicide - reportedly - but he's no monster.
The worst part of this story? Like with so many other topics, it's the fact we no longer have Norm MacDonald to spin it into gold. Even from the beyond the grave, he still gets the last word on all OJ-related material. God bless him, too.