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Longtime friend Mercury Morris has fond memories and made no judgment of OJ Simpson

Mercury Morris is on the phone, at once watching the coverage of O.J. Simpson’s death following a bout with cancer, and recounting tales about his friend and rival’s life and times.

That’s when the slow speed Bronco chase comes up as a topic.

There was that evening in South Florida, a few years ago, when the two former NFL running backs were on their way to a mutual friend’s house for a party, and Morris got lost.

“I made the wrong turn,” Morris recalls. “And he comes up in a Bronco or one of his trucks and puts down the window and goes, “Hey, you’re at the wrong house. Follow me, man, like you’ve been doing all your life.

“So, I followed him. I was following O.J. in the Bronco.”

Mercury Morris Reflects On O.J.

Morris pauses, recognizing the irony of his statement.

Morris, 77, was a Simpson contemporary. Both played college football at the same time in the 1960s. Both chased the same rushing records. Both were drafted in 1969. And both competed against one another during the season but were friendly in the offseason.

That’s how Morris chooses to recall Simpson. And that puts the former Miami Dolphins running back in what is probably a shrinking group of people who choose to think of Simpson mostly in football terms.

Mercury Morris runs

Everybody else goes in a different direction. They think of Simpson as the man charged with the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. They think of Simpson as the convict in Nevada.

They think of O.J. Simpson’s fall from grace.


Trial And Accusations Not Forgotten

Morris is aware of Simpson’s post-career history, but he has decided to try balancing the football player and the man on trial.

“When Juice was found not guilty, that really made a lot of people mad,” Morris said. “Because they thought he was guilty and all that. But it’s the system that you have. It’s not like that’s a new thing.

“I was watching [television], and people try, particularly women, and not that there’s anything wrong with it, because they’re entitled to their opinion, but they always want to curve back to what happened when he was on trial for murder, and he got off.”

That’s not how Morris remembers Simpson. He has fond memories of the man.

“Oh, yeah, heck yeah,” Morris said. “What else can I do unless I get into the pre-judgmental conclusion conversation? And that’s where the media is right now. I can’t see it from that vantage point because then I would have to be judging him. I don’t want anybody judging me. Therefore, I can’t make a judgment on him.”

Running back O.J. Simpson #32 of the San Francisco 49ers carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks

Morris Never Asked The Question

Morris says that he and Simpson last saw each other about five years ago. He recalls all those times post-retirement when they’d get into some friendly banter as one tried to gain an advantage over the other.

But amid the jokes and debate, Morris never asked Simpson about the murder accusations, particularly whether he did it or not.

“Hell, no!” Morris said. “Because, number one, whether he did or whether he didn’t is none of my business. I can’t think of the girl’s name, she’s on [television] now, I can’t think of her name, and somehow, they want to try to bring that in as a little news tidbit.

“So, now that’s the center of the guy’s life. His football career was one thing, but that’s not all you’re going to say about him.”

Robert Shapiro appears in court alongside his client, O.J. Simpson

What Morris prefers to say about Simpson is what he knows from personal interactions.

“Juice was a great football player,” Morris insists. “He was a good guy. He was a jokester. He was a person who, regardless of what may have been around him, he didn’t reflect that. He showed up as a regular guy.

“Last time I saw him, I want to say, was about five years ago at an event. He’d gotten gray and was balding, and he said to me, ‘You’ve gotten smaller.’ I said that’s what happens. I told him he’d gotten gray and older.’ “

Simpson didn’t argue.

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