| | THE JUICE IS LOOSE: O.J. Going to Orange Bowl to Back USC
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
January 3, 2005, 8:59 PM EST
MIAMI -- O.J. Simpson plans to root like crazy at the Orange Bowl.
"I'll be in the stands cheering as loud as anybody for USC," Simpson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.
"I can't wait. I always follow SC -- always have, always will," he said.
Simpson said he hasn't seen his alma mater play in person for about 10 years, though he has watched most of the Trojans' games on television during that time.
But the lure of seeing No. 1 Southern California take on No. 2 Oklahoma for the national title Tuesday night was too great for Simpson. The former Heisman Trophy winner lives about 30 miles southwest of Pro Player Stadium.
His attorney, Yale Galanter, monitored the telephone call and wouldn't allow Simpson to say where he'll be sitting inside the stadium.
Simpson played for Southern California in 1967-68, winning the Heisman his senior season. He then went on to become one of the best running backs in NFL history, mostly with the Buffalo Bills. After that, he was an actor, television football commentator and pitchman for Hertz.
That, more than anything else, made Simpson perhaps the best-known former USC student, surpassing the likes of actors John Wayne, Tom Selleck and Ron Howard; Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, and astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Simpson was tried and acquitted of murder following the June 1994 slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood.
Simpson was found liable for the deaths in a later civil trial and ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of the victims. His Heisman Trophy was sold to pay a portion of the judgment.
"I'm fine, the kids are happy, that makes me happy," he said. "They're doing terrific. My daughter's in college now, my son is in school here."
His daughter, Sydney, is 19; his son, Justin, 16. He said his son couldn't go to the Orange Bowl because he's playing in a basketball game Tuesday night.
Simpson did not attend any of the Trojans' practices. Two years ago, he dropped by a USC workout before the Orange Bowl against Iowa and was warmly received by players -- but the school later was criticized for the appropriateness of the visit.
Simpson said he was surprised USC was favored in this game because the Sooners have more experience. Yet he thought a freshman, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, could make a huge difference.
"He's the one player who's probably going to have the greatest impact on the game," Simpson said. "You can be in the perfect defense and it doesn't matter, he'll make an adjustment, he'll make a move and he'll score. He's the type of athlete that you can't defend. He scares me to death."
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