Over the last 26 years, O.J. Simpson has obviously made headlines for far different reasons than his Hall of Fame NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers. However, it just might be that NFL career that’s kept him from going completely broke.
O.J. Simpson played 11 years in the NFL
Following his Heisman Trophy-winning season at USC in 1968, O.J. Simpson was taken with the first overall pick in the 1969 NFL-AFL draft by the Buffalo Bills but struggled in his first three years in the pros, averaging just 642 yards per year from 1969 to 1971.
Simpson turned the tide in 1974, rushing for a league-high 1,251 yards. The following year, he became the first player in history to rush for more than 2,000 yards, breaking the threshold by a mere three yards. What makes his season more impressive than those who’ve accomplished the feat since is the fact that there were just 14 games on the schedule back then. He led the league in rushing two of the next three seasons as well.
Injuries limited him to just seven games in 1977 and he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers following the season. He played two seasons in his hometown before retiring in 1979. In 11 seasons in the NFL, O.J. Simpson rushed for 11,236 yards, the second-highest total in history at the time of his retirement, and still good for 21st on the NFL’s all-time rushing yards list. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
He served close to nine years in prison for robbery and kidnapping
While he avoided what would have likely been a life sentence after being acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and 25-year-old Ron Goldman, O.J. Simpson couldn’t avoid a stretch behind bars for his role in robbing sports memorabilia agents in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007.
Charged with multiple felonies, including armed robbery and kidnapping, Simpson was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 33 years in prison. He spent just short of the minimum at Lovelock Correctional Center in Las Vegas and was released on parole on October 1, 2017.
And it’s possible that in those eight-plus years that O.J. Simpson was still somehow able to make more than $600,000.
O.J. Simpson might have made more than $600,000 while in prison from his NFL pension
While most inmates at any prison wouldn’t dream of bringing in $600,000 while serving time, most inmates don’t have an NFL pension to pull from, which O.J. Simpson did during his nine-year stay in Vegas.
If Simpson waited until the age of 65 to start collecting his pension, which would make the most sense as doing it then as opposed to doing it at 55 pays more than 2.5 times more per month, ESPN calculated that Simpson would have made $602,205.
With the $250 monthly pension credit per season for those who played before 1982, that adds up to $2,750 as Simpson played 11 seasons. In addition, former players are given an additional $124 per month for any season before 1975, of which O.J. had six, and $108 for any season after, of which Simpson had five. So that adds an additional $1,284, bringing the total to $4,034 per month. Multiply that by 2.619, the formula that kicks in for those who wait until the age of 65 to start collecting, and you get $10,565 per month. Multiply that number by the 57 months he spent in prison from ages 65 to 70 (Simpson was 61 when he was sentenced) and you get that $602,205 number.
Given his financial troubles, there’s certainly a possibility that Simpson could have started pulling from his pension when he turned 55. If that were the case, he still would have made $423,570 during his sentence. Despite the amount, his pension is protected by law, meaning that anything he’s earned or will ever earn from it does not have to be paid to the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, who won a civil judgment of $33.5 million against O.J. Simpson in 1997, an amount which has since more than doubled and seems likely to never be paid.