O.J. Simpson has kept a somewhat low profile since getting out of prison in late 2017, though he has tended to pop up from time to time for awkward or damning interviews. This month, he was named the official football analyst of It Is What It Is, the YouTube sports show and podcast hosted by rappers Cam’ron and Ma$e.
You read that right.
Simpson led the country in rushing twice and won the Heisman Trophy at USC before winning NFL MVP during his 11-year pro football career. He also did commentary on Monday Night Football between 1983 and 1985. Certainly, he has a background in football.
But when most people think of Simpson, they think of the multiple high-profile court cases, including a criminal trial over the killing of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, which eventually led to a significant reconsideration of his life and legacy. The football legend spent nearly nine years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery during an incident in Las Vegas and owes the Goldman family millions after losing a civil trial over the wrongful death of Ronald Goldman.
Within minutes of Simpson joining the Underdog Fantasy show on Wednesday, the hosts jeered him for having USC paraphernalia ahead of a matchup with Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes. Leaving it at sports wouldn’t have been in the spirit of the show, though.
Ma$e joked “That’s the killer I know,” allegedly about Simpson’s USC allegiance, before Cam’ron bellowed “I knew he would try to murder us.”
The play on words went over 76-year-old Simpson’s (on a Zoom feed) head completely, so the rappers moved on.
The real reason Simpson joined the show Wednesday was not for Cam and Ma$e to get their jokes off about the most famous murder trial in American history. It was for Simpson to “solve the running back contract issues in the NFL.”
Simpson gave his thoughts on the Nick Chubb knee injury (he found and watched the replay, in case you were wondering). And then he gave his take on the NFL salary cap debate that keeps on giving. After that, they sifted through Week Two takes and Week Three predictions. A totally normal football show!
It Is What It Is exploded on YouTube thanks in large part to how absurd and out-of-pocket it is. For a show whose season premiere featured Antonio Brown, a weekly spot for Simpson is, somehow, par for the course.
But that doesn’t mean giving Simpson a relatively traditional space to speak about football is reasonable. The exact details of Nicole Brown Simpson’s death are still largely unknown. Many believe the criminal trial improperly let him off the hook. Simpson also remains in a protracted legal battle with the Goldman family, to whom he is believed to owe tens of millions of dollars.
Is that worth YouTube clout? Well, as almost every generation of YouTubers has proven, there is no limit to the lengths they will go for clout. It may seem strange to see two 1990s rappers chase the same thing, but it pays the bills.
Fans in the comment section sure seem to love the thrill of seeing Simpson on the show. But he is clearly not the best football analyst the show could have hired, and his chemistry with the hosts is fine but not great. They don’t seem to know each other well.
Ultimately, this isn’t about the football. It is all about attention, for better or worse.