What is art? Although it doesn’t have a clear definition, art often serves the functions of aestheticism and entertainment. In this context, sport is an art form considering its unique craft, beautiful motions, and the fact that it hooks millions of people. The most popular and televised sport in the U.S. is football. Hence, if football is art, the football player is the artist. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at one of football’s all-time greats, O.J. Simpson.
Being part of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team, the 1970s All-Decade Team, as well as the College-, and Pro Football Hall of Fame, O.J. Simpson is one of the best players to ever set foot on a gridiron. Simpson is widely regarded as the best runner of the NFL as he was the first one to rush over 2,000 yards in a 14-game season. In addition, Simpson was selected for five Pro Bowls and awarded Most Valuable Player, and Athlete of the Year in 1973. However, the name O.J. Simpson is rarely connected to his on-court achievements but rather his criminal history.
On the night of June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered outside of Brown’s home in Los Angeles. Subsequently, Simpson was declared the prime suspect, which started a year-long trial that would tarnish Simpson’s reputation for ever. Even though, he was found not guilty, a following civil trial charged him for over $30 million in damages to the victim’s families. Furthermore, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison after he was found responsible for armed robbery and kidnapping in 2007.
Thus, the case of O.J. Simpson is a prime example of separating art from the artist. Despite being a convicted criminal and alleged murderer, Simpson was an artist on the football field since he entertained the masses and produced some of the NFL’s most memorable moments. Among them were his famous 200-yard rushing games against the New England Patriots and New York Jets in 1973. This creates two personas that shouldn’t be confused with each other: O.J. Simpson, the artist and O.J. Simpson, the criminal. We should not diminish the achievements of the former based on the actions of the latter.