30 April 2020

Don't Follow O.J.

O.J. Simpson's life can basically be divided into two parts:  The part that most of us can't imitate, and the part that none of us should emulate.

About the former:  He became famous because he was a big guy who could run fast.  That is what made him one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL.  Before becoming a professional American football player, he attended the University of Southern California, where he starred, not only in football, but in track-and-field.  At USC, he was part of a relay team that set a world record in the 4 X 110 relay.

I think it's fair to say that while he worked hard at becoming a great runner and football player, most of us never could have achieved what he did no matter how much we trained.  He purely and simply had talents that very few of us have.

Among his other physical gifts were his looks:  Check out a photo of him from his playing days.  His appearance, and his charisma, ironically, led him to the part of his life no-one should try to emulate:  his acting career.  Someone--perhaps OJ himself--made that all-too-common mistake of thinking that looking good on camera is the same as putting one's self in the shoes of a character.  Perhaps I am not being fair:  It may be that even if he were a more talented actor--or if his movies and TV shows had better writers-- people would always see OJ and not the character he was playing. 

Being a famous athlete and acting turned him into a celebrity, which can warp just about anybody.  By the time he reached his nadir, OJ seemed, at times, to be a parody of himself.  A decade and a half after his football career ended, he was involved in the incident that has defined him ever since:  a slow-speed car chase.  I can't decide whether it's worse to actually be involved on something like that or to live with the infamy that follows.

Byron Gentry of Bryant, Alabama will get a taste of it.  Because he has never been as famous as OJ, he will never be quite as infamous.  To paraphrase Andy Warhol, though, he may well have gotten his fifteen minutes of infamy.

He was riding along Country Road 784 in nearby Sand Mountain when a deputy pulled up to talk to him.  Gentry wasn't willing and fled into a nearby yard.  

The chase, which WDEF described as "low speed," moved to County Road 141.  Gentry refused to stop.  Another deputy joined the chase.  Gentry ditched the bike and ran into nearby woods, where the deputies caught him.

A Victorian Era Criminal Leads Police on a High Speed Bicycle ...

The police didn't say why the deputies pursued Gentry.  But when they ran a check on him, they found an outstanding warrant for domestic violence.  That charge will be compounded by charges of resisting arrest and Attempt to Elude.

All of this goes that getting involved in a slow chase--especially if you are the one pursued--is not a good idea.  OJ Simpson should have proved that for all time.

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