Bill Simmons Podcast O.J. Simpson Screen grab: The Bill Simmons Podcast

Celebrity eulogies can often be messy. Especially so when they involve a figure as complicated as O.J. Simpson.

But while many weighed in on Simpson’s legacy following the news of his death on Thursday, Bill Simmons did one of the better jobs of putting the former NFL running back’s historical significance into perspective. Opening Friday’s episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, the Sports Guy didn’t eulogize Simpson so much as he offered a “truelogy,” which focused on both the good and (very) bad of his life.

Simmons started with his recollection of Simpson as the most famous football player of the 1970s, before continuing into his post-playing career. The Ringer founder noted that the USC product was the rare athlete to obtain A-list status, likening his approval rating among fans to that of Charles Barkley’s today.

Simmons then, of course, discussed the car chase, arrest and ensuing murder trial that came as the result of Simpson being accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman in 1994. In addition to the cultural impact, he also touched on the racial aspects of the trial and the differing reactions to the not guilty verdict, before noting how it continued to create content — from documentaries, to TV shows to even the rise of the Kardashian family — for the remainder of his life.

Ultimately, Simmons summed up Simpson’s legacy thusly:

“He touched all of these facets of life. And I don’t say that as a compliment,” he said. “But when you think of where the story starts with him at USC in 1967 all the way through to the way it ended today and the way it was dissected… he just takes you from point A to point B to point C to point D to point E to point F, all the way through. The best and worst that can happen to a celebrity all at once.

“That’s ultimately how I’d remember O.J. Simpson. He reached all the heights that you’d want to reach if you wanted to become a famous athlete and try to crossover. And then he reached all the lows. And they were f***ing low. But there’s never been at least a career/life/impact like the one he had. And I don’t mean that as a compliment. It’s an entirely unique journey that I don’t even know how to compare it to anything else that I’ve seen.

“Now I am in my mid-50s and it’s 2024 and somehow we’re still talking about O.J. Simpson and wondering what the f*** happened… I kind of still can’t believe it. I can’t believe the last 30 years happened with him. I never in a million years would have guessed. And I think that’s one of the things that drove the story. We haven’t had a murder trial that reached even 20 percent of the impact that this one did. And I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like it again in my lifetime. So those are my O.J. thoughts. I am not going to tell him to R.I.P.”

Considering the constraints of the podcast format, Simmons did a more than adequate job of explaining what made Simpson such a significant figure without glorifying him. At multiple points, he made sure to forcefully condemn the negatives of Simpson’s life, but not in a way that felt sanctimonious.

As a sports and pop culture obsessed child of the 70s (and sports and pop culture obsessed adult of today), discussing Simpson’s more than complicated legacy is right up Simmons’ alley. And his comments on Friday’s podcast met the moment.

[The Bill Simmons Podcast]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.