By Terry Boers–
(CBS) Long ago, I had promised myself to put O.J. Simpson on the pay-no-mind list, to hopefully let him rot in a Nevada prison for the rest of his life, never to be heard from again.
But there he was last week in a Nevada courtroom, flanked by mouthpiece Malcolm Lavergne, bringing all the breads and circuses that he knows so well back from his Los Angeles days. He apparently forgot the trained seal, but Simpson didn’t need it. He was granted parole and will be out on Oct. 1 after serving nine years of his 33-year sentence for an armed robbery in Palace Station, a Las Vegas hotel. Simpson even noted he’s going to move back to Florida, a place where the maniac count is already too high, certainly well above my posted limit.
I didn’t watch a minute of the proceedings. I didn’t have the heart or the stomach for anymore of his garbage and lies. This is a guy who actually told the parole board that he has basically spent a conflict-free life, you know. Yeah, and former Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze said he must have butt-dialed a Tampa escort.
Thing is, I wasn’t just angry for me. I was maddest for Fred Goldman, whose son Ron was butchered along with Nicole Brown Simpson on June 12, 1994. He would have celebrated his 26th birthday on July 2, 1994.
And the young Goldman put up quite a fight. Depending on which account you believe, he was stabbed anywhere from 20 to more than 30 times, creating a scene that even made veteran detectives sick to their stomachs, not to mention jurors at the actual trial. And all Ron Goldman had done was stand up for his friend Nicole. It’s also been duly noted that Ron died a protracted and painful death.
From that horrific moment on, Fred Goldman has become one of the most dogged, determined fathers I have ever seen in any walk of life. If it sounds like I admire him, it should. I do. He’s been placed in the center of everything O.J., from the day of the infamous Bronco chase to the arrest to the Trial of the Century to his family winning a $33.5-million civil lawsuit against Simpson, who came unglued more than once when he finally had to testify in his own defense. And just so you know, all Goldman has collected from that wrongful death settlement is less than one percent of what’s owed.
And now the latest has again made Goldman and his daughter Kim front-page news.
When contacted by the various news outlets about the parole board’s decision, Goldman was as much on the muscle as he’d ever been … and maybe just a bit more.
Simpson is a “sociopath, a narcissistic liar, a murderer, a thug, a kidnapper, a robber,” read the Los Angeles Times headline.
That about sums that up.
And the thing is, no one really knew what kind of guy we were dealing with back in 1994. Goldman, who was born in Chicago in 1940, had a California cool mustache and had suddenly been thrust into the glare of the media spotlight, seemingly carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
How does one hold up under such scrutiny? How do you deal with the day-to-day of your existence after you’ve become the unwanted collateral damage of a crazed killer with a murderous agenda?
Well, Goldman did as well as anyone can be expected. Asked by a CBS reporter in 2014 about his son 20 years after the murder, Goldman said of Ron: “He was thoughtful. He was caring. He was loving. I’m proud of my son every day of my life. He was who he was, and that’s why he chose to return the sunglasses to Nicole’s mother or for Nicole’s mother. And it’s that act of kindness that got him killed. I wish that Ron had not been so kind that night.’’
When the elder Goldman received the phone call from the police the morning after the killings, he asked police why in the world would they be calling him.
“Because your son was the other victim,” he was told.
I’ve seen Goldman enough over the years to know that the pain is still there, seemingly as fresh as it was that morning when he first got the news.
“It’s always there,” Goldman told the CBS reporter of the heartache. “Almost at the drop of a hat, I can get emotional or cry.”
Besides coping with the death, Goldman has been forced to deal with many other side effects, including being a branded a racist for not agreeing with the jury’ s finding, hardly surprising considering the entire trial turned into referendum on celebrity and race, tactics pushed forward by Simpson’s defense team led by the late Johnny Cochran.
I’m sure the racist nonsense came up again after last week’s comments from the Goldman camp. It always does, even when it doesn’t belong in the conversation. I don’t think Fred Goldman is a racist. I don’t think a lot of people who’ve been so branded are racists. I also know that far too many people still are and always will be.
What Fred Goldman has been since we first saw him was a terribly wounded but a terribly proud dad who’s tried to be honest, who hasn’t held back much of anything he feels as he’s dealt with loss that still seems unimaginable to many. Nor should he have to worry about it.
He’s not someone who deserves to be skewered, who’s somehow become the face of anything other than having to cope with one of the most profound losses any human being can suffer.
To his everlasting credit, Goldman has shown us all that being a dad doesn’t just stop in a fateful moment. It endures forever. The great George Strait once told us a secret about a father’s love, how it’s a love without end, amen.
That’s who Fred Goldman is. It’s who he’ll always be until the day he leaves this earth.
Terry Boers was a longtime sports writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and a host on 670 The Score from the station’s inception in 1992 until he retired in January 2017.