“O.J.: Made in America” – Part 1 Recap

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Updated: June 13, 2016

Long revered for coming out with outstanding documentaries, ESPN’s five-part exploration into O.J. Simpson kicked off last night with a look at the early years of “the Juice”.

Part 1 set the background for all the events that will follow, detailing Simpson’s emergence from the San Francisco housing projects to his subsequent rise fame as a college and pro-football star. Director Ezra Edelman did a marvelous job of contrasting the pristine campus of USC and the life O.J. was cultivating in that safe environment versus the violence and chaos that was erupting only a few miles down the road in Watts and other Los Angeles ghettos.

Simpson made a conscious decision during this tumultuous period to remain above the fray and avoid any kind of statements or actions that would be perceived as him taking a political stand of any kind. He was in the business of O.J., creating a brand that would be marketable and set the stage for a profitable second career.

Somewhat shocking was the fact that his first career almost ended before it began, for if Lou Saban didn’t get hired in Buffalo, who knows where the Simpson’s career would’ve ended up. Saban helped revived O.J.’s career by formulating an offensive attack that focused primarily on the running game. Behind the famed Electric Company, he rushed for over 2,000-yards in 14 games in 1972 and earned the NFL rushing titles in 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1976.

It was a remarkable turn of events for O.J., paving the way for the continued fame, attention, and national endorsements that would follow. Interesting as well was the positive endorsements he received on camera from a number of his former teammates, as he shared the success of his 2,000 yard-season with his offensive line and generally seemed like he endeared himself to them by being a team guy.

Throughout Part 1 you can sense the director building towards the darker side of Simpson, and the ending is rather ominous with him just having met the beautiful Nicole Brown. The narcissistic qualities that are brewing beneath the surface will be on full display as we move towards the tragedy that of 1994.

 

 

 

 

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