Irony? I once wrote that I may not be able to define irony for you…, but I know it when it slaps me upside the head. The dictionary says, “… a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects…”. Or maybe you should call it disrespect…, or insulting?
I am sure it was merely coincidence that the five part-eight hour documentary “OJ: Made in America” was scheduled for TV release on June 11, 2016…, just a week after the passing of Muhammad Ali. OJ and Ali were both great athletes…, but only one was a great man…, The Greatest. If there is any doubt in your mind about which one that is…, don’t bother reading any further.
I am also sure that the release of the OJ film was scheduled for release long ago…, it has already made the rounds at film festivals…, but I am not sure why that TV release could not…, and should not have been rescheduled. There is little doubt that it was some sort of monetary consideration and contract obligations. Both men had diametrically opposed views on money and obligations. Ali gave up his heavyweight championship, millions of dollars, and several years of his prime athletic life for his principles, his “people”, and his religion…, by refusing to be inducted into the US Army. About that same time OJ was winning a Heisman Trophy and already counting the millions he was going to demand from the NFL team the drafted him. He held out until he got it too. He once remarked that, “I’m not black…, I’m OJ.” If he ever did anything for anyone but OJ…, it was just for the good publicity it would get him…, and the money that would follow.
I was still in high school when Ali refused the draft in 67 and OJ won the Heisman in 68. I had different opinions of them back then. I thought Ali was a loud mouth, uppity nigger who feigned religion and was a coward and a draft dodger…, he deserved whatever he got. OJ was a tremendous athlete who knew his place…, and deserved whatever he got. Fifty years can change a man’s view, his attitudes…, and philosophy of life. It didn’t happen overnight…, getting drafted myself…, serving in the South in the early 70’s had quite an impact on me. I began to realize that Ali was right about the war…, and a lot more…, and was probably the greatest boxer ever. OJ on the other hand was a media made star. He was fast…, but not a great runner. He would go a whole game with nothing but two, three or four yards a carry…, until the one big hole opened up and he burst through for an eighty yard run. The year he set the rushing record with over 2000 years in a season wasn’t because he had such a great year…, it was because it was set up to be his big season…, OJ was the offense. All those carries probably took a few years off his career…, but he was eying Hollywood anyway. He never led his pro team to a championship.
The movie is getting rave reviews…, “essential and momentous”…, “has grandeur and authority”…, “thought-provoking, astonishing, sobering, hilarious, tragic”…, “Historically meticulous, thematically compelling and deeply human… a masterwork of scholarship, journalism and cinematic art.”
I won’t be watching it. I have no respect for OJ and what he did. One review states, “… should be a conversation-starter, a way to discuss what happened in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s in terms of race and celebrity and what it says about today.” No…, I don’t buy that. Ali and OJ grew up in the same era and I would say that Ali faced far more racism, hatred, and prejudice in Louisville than OJ did in San Francisco. Ali stood up to it and backed it down. OJ bowed down to it. They were both big celebrities…, Ali accepted it and lived with it…, OJ spent his life trying to exploit it.
No…, if I want to learn something about life…, give me The Ali story. Don’t slap me upside the head.
Rest In Peace Champ…, it was just a sad coincidence.