AT FIRST O.J. SIMPSON INSISTED TO me the interview would be short. He was busy. His family was in town. He was taking his son Justin for a haircut. Two hours later he was still talking; he even called back twice to elaborate on some points. Timed exactly to the third anniversary of the murders of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman, it was Simpson's first wide-ranging print interview since last February, when he was found liable for the murders-- and hit with a $32.5 million civil judgment. Laughing easily, he sounded as sure as ever of his innocence. But he also unleashed his anger at the Brown family, the Goldroans and the system.
Simpson said he and his family weren't marking the anniversary--even if the Browns were holding a candlelight vigil. "I don't want the day to stand out for my kids," he said. "I want my kids to be positive, up kids. I don't want them celebrating the 12th of June every year. I don't want to see them selling. candles at a candlelight vigil. To me that's pimping Nicole, and I'm just glad my kids aren't going to be there. We celebrated her birthday and we honored her today as we do every day-with prayer."
Simpson's relationship with-his ex-in-laws Lou and Juditha Brown and their daughters remains bitter. "I don't have a relationship with the Browns and I'm not looking to have one," he says. Why? "You can't say you are responsible for the kids and then have your daughters selling pictures of them to the tabloids. Look, the Browns had my kids while I was incarcerated and I had no reservations. I'm glad they were there and I can never thank them enough for that period of time. But who could think that someone in her family would sell nude photographs of Nicole?"
That leaves Simpson in a peculiar position when he talks to his kids (Sydney, 11, and Justin, 8) about their grandparents. "I'm reluctant to say negative things," he says. "It doesn't do the kids any good." But he adds, "The Browns say 'How are they going to feel when they get older and realize that you killed their mother?' Well, we'll see how [the children] feel when they have learned everything."
His two kids, he reports, are "doing great in school." They're both into computers and his son is "naturally into sports- basketball mostly." He says, "As the years go on we might have some problems. It's tough not having a mother, and as hard as I try, I can't come close. Nicole was a great mom." Quite often, he says, "I'm the only adult chaperoning as many as six kids alone over the weekends. And they all come over and play."
Simpson's financial state has obviously changed since the trials. "I'm retired. I do have a retirement plan [$25,000 a month] and I am trying to raise my kids on it. But I have to live on a pension and somewhere find the money to fund my appeal. It's a much different world I live in now. Before, I had toys, and I loved playing golf at the Riviera. Now I play on public courses." His Rockingham estate is in foreclosure and could be put up for sale by next month. "I have accepted that Rockingham is history, but I may stay in Los Angeles and rent a house somewhere." He insists he has no idea what happened to his Heisman Trophy, which sheriffs deputies sought as partof his assets: "I don't know and I don't want to know if it's not going to be mine anymore. But I do know that if I thought someone was going to commercialize it, I would have thrown it in the trash can."
Indeed, Simpson was sharply critical of Fred Goldman for aggressively seeking to satisfy the civil judgment. "Fred Goldman lost his son--who was brutally murdered-and I feel for him," O.J. says. "But whatever he takes of what's left of mine, he is taking from the two people who have suffered the most and will continue to suffer-my kids. The fact is, Fred Goldman has a better job and is materially better off today than he was before this happened." But, Simpson allows, "that doesn't undercut the fact he has lost a son."
What is O.J.'s future? "Who knows-but I'm optimistic," he says. "I have friends and little projects. So I'm OK. My concern is going to be in five, six years, when the kids don't need me as much. But right now, raising them is a full-time job." He talks about Nicole, saying she "comes to me from time to time in my dreams and it's always a positive dream. Occasionally I dream that I single-handedly solve the case."
Remarriage isn't in the picture. "I have a fingering fear that I will never trust another person the way I trusted and loved Nicole and my ex-wife Marguerite. So sometimes I sit at home and wish I could go back to certain dates. But what date to go back to? I don't know."