For O.J. Simpson, welcome mat of Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton still out

O.J. Simpson will remain an annual invitee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies after his release from a Nevada prison.

Contacted Friday about the possibility of Simpson attending the yearly event, Hall of Fame officials said “All Hall of Famers are invited to attend the annual enshrinement.”

Simpson, now 70, has served nine years of a nine-to-33-year sentence for his 2008 conviction on armed robbery and kidnapping charges. A Nevada parole board voted unanimously Thursday to grant Simpson his release from prison as early as October 1.

Simpson indicated during Thursday’s parole hearing he wanted to relocate to Florida after his release.

It means Simpson, a Hall of Fame running back who was enshrined into the Hall in 1985, could conceivably attend the annual enshrinement weekend once any restrictions that come with his parole allow for travel.

Simpson has not attended the Hall’s enshrinement ceremonies since 1985, the year he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Simpson’s bust has remained on display since he was enshrined. The Hall of Fame’s by-law stipulate that only a player’s on-field achievements in football are considered as the criteria for enshrinement.

Sunday will mark an anniversary of the only time when Simpson’s bust has not been on display in the Hall of Fame. Simpson’s bust was stolen from the Hall of Fame on July 23, 1995 — during his murder trial.

The bust was stolen just as the museum was about the close for the evening and was before the Hall of Fame had bolted down each bust as it does now. The bust was located the following day, by an Ohio Department of Transportation crew, about 50 miles south of Canton, Ohio.

Simpson’s parole will expire Sept. 29, 2022, so he must live under the terms of his release during that time. Under the provisions of his parole Simpson would initially go into a program approach by Nevada’s Division of Parole and Probation as well as report to a supervising officer

He would also have to submit to drug tests as well as written reports each month to that supervising officer until his parole expires.

Simpson rushed for 11,236 yards in an 11-year NFL career and he was the first running back in league history to top 2,000 yards rushing in a season with 2,003 yards in 1973.

In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman after a highly-publicized trial. The trial and its aftermath was the subject of “O.J.: Made in America,” an Oscar-winning documentary that aired earlier this year.

Simpson’s lawyer referenced the 1995 trial in a press conference following Simpson’s parole hearing Thursday, calling it “the 10,000-pound elephant in that room … I think we were very successful in making sure that elephant was sleeping and that it was washed and very clean and that it never started to rear its head.”

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